Roberto Martinez could be set to continue the Everton traditions – established under shrewd-shopping ex-gaffer David Moyes – of selling their big names for top whack and replacing them with low-cost high-quality players.
Marouane Fellaini has been linked with moves to Arsenal and Manchester United and the Toffees look set for a good return on the £15m they paid to his former club Standard Liege, with his admirers likely to have to trigger a £22m release clause in the Belgian’s Goodison contract to gain his signature.
Honda will be available for a cut-price fee, with his contract at CSKA Moscow due to elapse next summer and he has been seen to great effect for Japan in the Confederations Cup recently.
The 27-year-old would be an able replacement for the attacking portion of Fellaini’s skillset as the ex-VVV Venlo man can play as an attacking midfielder, a number 10, a false-nine or a slightly deeper lying playmaker.
The one area in which he would be an inferior replacement to the Belgian would be in his defensive contribution, arguably the weakest part of his game.
He may not even end up having to replace Fellaini, with the latter’s Arsenal move far from inevitable thanks to his wage demands, thought to be around £100,000-a-week.
At present Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski are the only Gunners to command close to that level of remuneration and this financial impasse could have Toffees fans dreaming of an improved midfield next season.
If Fellaini were to stay at Goodison for another campaign, Martinez could employ him in a deeper midfield role rather than as second striker, a role in which he was often employed last season. Honda – who has a scoring ratio of just over one in every four games for CSKA – would then be free to operate in behind lead strikers like Victor Anichebe or Nikica Jelavic.
Keeping hold of Fellaini and adding the creativity, guile and goal-power of Honda to the ranks would certainly make the 20/1 available about Everton snaring a top four finish in the 2013/14 Premier League look like a tasty price.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.