Everton miss chance to end transfer saga

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Bid £12 million for Leighton Baines as an opening offer -- there is an argument for testing the waters. Not a very plausible argument, but an argument nonetheless. Return with an identical bid as a follow-up, and there is reason to fear the men in white coats arriving at your door.

Add £16 million for Marouane Fellaini into the mix and the scenario becomes even more bewildering. Once the details of the bid broke, Everton delivered a response on their website. Unsurprisingly, and quite rightly, director of communications Alan Myers described the double bid as "derisory and insulting".

After all, David Moyes should know better after 11 years at Goodison Park. His loyalty is elsewhere these days, but that is beside the point. This is nothing to do with loyalty. Actually, forget his past links to Everton; this is simply a gross undervaluing of two of the best players in the division.

-Everton dismiss United's double bid

When another club attempted to prise away his better players in 2011, Moyes uttered: "I've always said it, it's expensive to buy off Everton in the main. If you're going to come and try to take our better players we don't sell cheap, that's for sure."

Attempting to purchase from his old haunt, the former longtime Everton manager would do well to remember those words. Everton do not sell their better players cheaply (Wayne Rooney aside) and they do not intend to buck that trend now.

These derisory bids seem out of character for Moyes given his reaction to similar strong-arm tactics from Manchester City over Joleon Lescott. City relentlessly pursued the defender in 2009, unsettling both the player and his employers, which led to Moyes labeling their constant attentions as "disgusting".

This £28 million is wide of the mark, yet the individual breakdowns infuriate most. Fellaini had a release clause of £23.5 million, which expired at the start of the month. As no club activated the clause, it is unsurprising to see Manchester United go below that figure, though £16 million is pitiful.

Acquired for an initial outlay of £15 million in 2008, this bid suggests his value has risen by just £1 million in that time -- a preposterous notion if ever there was one. Finishing last season as the club's top scorer despite playing out of position, Fellaini is able to occupy a number of roles.

At his best in a central midfield berth, the big-haired midfielder is worth considerably more than £16 million. Maturing into a quality midfielder, United will need to return with a significantly higher amount; otherwise, Everton look set to maintain their stance.

Returning to the Baines bid, £12 million for arguably the best full-back in Europe is frankly absurd especially given the inflated price tags in the modern game. Last season he created 116 chances -- the highest amount in the Premier League and a total bettered by only Mathieu Valbuena in Europe.

Although advancing in years, with the Everton left-back now 28, his quality balances out his age. When Manchester City pay £30 million for Fernandinho, a midfielder of the same age, with no Premier League experience, the absurdity of the Baines bid is brought firmly into focus.

There is, however, a bit of light for United. While the current Everton stance is commendable and pleasantly surprising, there was no definitive line under the saga. These current offers are ‘derisory’ and ‘insulting’, but there was no declaration the players are not for sale.

Seemingly leaving the door ajar for their North West neighbours, Everton risk undermining their current defiance should they entertain further bids. Sales at this late stage leave little room for improvement and threaten to unhinge the pleasing work to this point. The ideal time for selling either player -- if there ever was such a time -- came and went weeks ago.

To prevent this unsavoury episode from continuing into the latter stages of the transfer window, a definitive "they are not for sale" is required. Other clubs have adopted such a stance and it would appease a fan base wary of another deadline-day fiasco -- Mikel Arteta in 2011 springs to mind.

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