The prospective permanent return of Steven Pienaar to Everton is, on the face of it, a pretty straightforward deal. But, football being football, things are never that easy.
The bare bones of the story are that Tottenham paid around £2.5m when Everton were desperate to cash in before Pienaar’s contract ran out and now want £6m to send him back, all of which seems like good business for Spurs. Pienaar’s original reason for wanting to leave Everton had been the big wage differential between himself and co-midfielder Mikel Arteta. Quite how big a gap isn’t known, but Arteta apparently took a pay cut from £70k to £60k/wk when joining Arsenal. Furthermore, although much of the transfer dealing at Spurs was said to be out of Redknapp’s hands, the Pienaar deal was said to be very much a “Harry” and Daniel Levy went along with it because the outlay was relatively modest for such a top player. Allegedly, Levy was less than impressed when it didn’t work out and Pienaar was shipped back to Goodison on loan in order to defray some of his wage costs. Once back on Merseyside, and earning more money than when he’d left, love and harmony were restored until Spurs slapped on the price tag, a figure not unrelated to the original fee plus the South African captain’s wages while at White Hart Lane. Everton are not exactly awash with money at present, but both clubs prepared to haggle.
Then everything went pear-shaped. Redknapp was sacked and Moyes was in the frame. Now Pienaar put the brakes on the deal; undying love for Everton was one thing but if Moyes went to Tottenham…….? With Villas-Boas now confirmed as the new boss, Pienaar enquired about his potential future in Edmonton and the response left him underwhelmed and anxious to sign on the dotted line once the transfer fee is fixed.
The price is important to Everton, not least because Hugo Rodallega is set to leave Wigan. On the face of it, he would appear to be beyond Everton’s budget, but they do have a few aces in the hole. Firstly, their wage bill is more manageable since Arteta, Saha, Bilyaletdinov, Drenthe and others have left the club. Secondly, getting Steven Naismith as a free agent from Rangers was something of a bonus, re-uniting the Scot with Nikica Jelavic at little cost. Most importantly, Roberto Martinez is an admirer of Victor Anichebe and would be prepared to do a part-exchange deal. Moyes has been reluctant to let “Big Vic” go in the past, but Naismith, like Anichebe, can play as striker or winger and whether Rodallega arrives or not, Anichebe could be surplus to requirements and pave the way for a permanent deal with Landon Donovan. All of which brings us back to Pienaar. Another reason the Toffees need Pienaar is to encourage Leighton Baines to stick with the club; the pair work brilliantly together and the feeling is that if Everton can actually start next season in August and not the customary November, a challenge for a European place is not beyond them, something that would keep Baines onside.
From the Tottenham point of view, securing Adebayor and providing AVB with a war chest is a priority, so slimming the squad by selling peripheral players helps considerably. All of which means that the deal will go through next week, Everton paying around £4.5m with gritted teeth.
By Rob Macardle, 7 Valleys Media & Management ©2012
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