Providing you aren’t a supporter of one of the Premier League’s more illustrious, well-off outfits, the final knockings of the transfer window are usually an agonizing, anxious period. Sure, it’s built up to be a day of excitement. A day where teams can beat the clock to secure that dramatic, big money deal. But in reality, the majority of clubs outside that distinguished bracket will be content staving off late moves for any of their top players.
Everton are a club who are all too familiar with this scenario, and this upcoming window looks to be no different. Manchester United are striving to complete deals for Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini before the window closes, and the general consensus seems to be that a new £40million bid will be enough to see Everton bid their star duo farewell.
It is a saga that has dragged on over the course of the summer. Upon unveiling Roberto Martinez as the club’s new manager, chairman Bill Kenwright made it clear that Marouane Fellaini aside – a player who at the time had a release clause written into his contract – David Moyes would not be allowed cherrypick Everton’s top talent in his new role as Manchester United boss.
Those words did little to defer Moyes, and two joint bids have followed for Baines and Fellaini. So far, Everton have stood strong and turned them both away. But the absence of a strong declaration that neither player is for sale remains outstanding, and supporters are anxious that the club may yet cash in on their two prize assets, even at this very late stage.
For many Evertonians, the point of no return has long gone on this deal. The thought of negotiating with United is in itself enough to rile most Blues, with the seemingly patronizing, arrogant comments from Moyes and the “derisory and insulting” nature of the first bid still fresh in the memory. The overwhelming opinion remains that these were dirty tricks on United’s behalf that geared towards putting pressure on Everton and unsettling the duo.
Perhaps the Merseyside outfit could have given United a deadline before Monday night’s official cut-off to meet their asking price, giving Martinez plenty of time to bring in replacements if a transfer was agreed. But at this juncture, a mere three days before the window shuts, many Evertonians would happily see the club point-blank refuse to sell the players. The coveted duo might be frustrated at not getting their move, but both Fellaini and Baines have conducted themselves admirably amid the speculation and there is nothing to suggest they would not continue to do so should they remain at Goodison.
The early stages of the season have merely emphasized that both remain key figures in this side, and a strong show of defiance against their former boss would be welcomed by the fans. It would resonate a clear message that the club are not going to be dictated to under this new regime, just as they were not dictated to under the previous one. Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United have all been rewarded for obstinate approaches when others have tried to poach their key players, and perhaps Everton should take a leaf out of their book.