Kevin Mirallas’ Everton future in doubt after a controversial incident took place at Goodison Park in last night’s fixture against West Bromwich Albion.
After struggling to break Tony Pulis’ new team down, Everton won a penalty just before half-time. Despite the fact that Leighton Baines is the first-choice penalty taker at the club, the Belgian grabbed the ball, signaling his intention to take the spot kick.
This sparked notable reactions from Mirallas’ fellow countryman Romelu Lukaku and Scottish forward Steven Naismith. Both seemed irritated at his decision, although Baines’ reaction was muted.
Roberto Martinez furious
Mirallas’ then compounded his choice by failing to hit the target from 12-yards. His manager Roberto Martinez must have been incensed as the winger was immediately substituted off at half-time.
The Spaniard has denied that the decision take Mirallas off was anything to do with the penalty incident, instead claiming that his wide player was injured.
“Kevin felt his hamstring was getting sensitive. It was a precaution,” the Everton manager told the BBC.
“They are not related. The talking point is because we missed it.”
In truth the Spaniard was more than likely protecting the player publicly.
"Breach of team spirit"
The debacle was further compounded by the fact that Everton went on to draw the game 0-0 and it sparked a furious reaction from Sky Sports’ Gary Neville.
"What he's done there at 0-0, taking it off the major penalty taker, which is what it looks like has happened, is a despicable breach of team spirit," Neville said.
"To go against team orders, you do not do that."
Having been recently linked with Tottenham Hotspur, the whole incident has raised further questions over Mirallas’ future. The winger was approached with a fresh contract offer earlier this season but has delayed the decision until the summer, when he enters the final 12 months of his current deal.
It now looks extremely unlikely that he will continue to play for Everton beyond this season. Perhaps the Merseyside club would be best advised to cash in this month and bring in a suitable replacement for the influential winger.