Manchester United appear to have moved a step closer to selling midfielder Tom Cleverley after it emerged that Everton are ready to move forward with a bid for the England international. The Red Devils have shelved plans to hold contract talks with the 24-year-old and could offload him before the start of the 2014-15 Premier League campaign gets underway.
According to the Daily Star, Everton boss Roberto Martinez is keen to sign the £15 million-rated Cleverley - who he briefly managed during his time at Wigan Athletic - in a cut-price deal. The Spaniard believes the much-maligned star is capable of becoming one of the league’s best central midfielders if provided with the right platform to showcase his qualities.
Cleverley likely to say yes to Everton
Cleverley confessed in an interview last season that he feels he has been unfairly made a scapegoat by sections of the United supporters. The midfielder’s disappointing displays last term were heavily criticised by United fans and non-United fans alike, and the chance to enjoy a fresh start at Goodison Park - where the pressure is less intense - may appeal.
United recently spent £28 million to acquire the services of Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera, leaving Cleverley even further down the pecking order at Old Trafford. A move to Merseyside - under the tutelage of Martinez, a coach who implicitly believes in him - may prove too tempting to resist, even if it means leaving one of the world’s biggest football clubs.
United in the process of strengthening further
Herrera might not be the only big-name midfielder to walk through the doors of Old Trafford this summer if United boss Louis van Gaal gets his way. The veteran Dutchman has been linked with several high-profile stars in recent weeks, including Juventus stars Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba, Sporting Lisbon ace William Carvalho and Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira.
Regardless of who else the Red Devils manage to sign, it seems increasingly unlikely that Cleverley will be a first-team regular at Manchester United should he decide to stay put at Old Trafford next season.
Former United stars have excelled at Goodison Park
Cleverley can make the move to Everton comforted by the fact that several former United players have excelled at Goodison Park in recent years. Goalkeeper Tim Howard has developed into one of the Premier League’s most reliable goalkeepers, Phil Neville enjoyed an excellent spell as Everton captain, while Darron Gibson has shown glimpses of his best form away from the bright and overbearing spotlight at Old Trafford.
While Everton fans may not be particularly enthused by the idea of Cleverley joining their club, it should be remembered that this is a midfielder with a considerable amount of talent and the potential to become a major asset for his next employers.
Tom Cleverley: Misunderstood?
Arsenal still interested in Cleverley?
But could Cleverley’s next employers be Arsenal? The Gunners were linked with the Manchester United and England midfielder last month, with speculation that Arsene Wenger was considering offloading Thomas Vermaelen in the opposite direction if it meant securing Cleverley’s services.
Arsenal fans reacted negatively towards the idea of signing Cleverley - but will that be enough to put Wenger off?