BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Phil Jagielka of Everton gestures during the pre season friendly between Birmingham City and Everton at St Andrews on July 30, 2011 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
As rumours abound about the imminent departure of Phil Jagielka to Arsenal, which by the way I refuse to believe will happen at the current price offered, just who would be needed to fill his sizeable boots if Everton are to maintain their rightful place in the upper echelons of the Premier League?
Given that there is an ever shrinking number of days until the start of the season Everton need to act fast as they would dearly miss a key player in their line-up. There is of course a ready made replacement in Johnny Heitinga (assuming he doesn't throw a strop about the team's prospects for future success and start doing a Joleon). Elsewhere we might call upon Phil Neville or Tony Hibbert to fill in as a stop-gap - hardly inspiring stuff for away days at the likes of Tottenham - or push Jack Rodwell back into a critical role for such a precocious talent. Shane Duffy doesn't appear anywhere near ready to fill the role. So presumably should we lose Jags so close to the start of the season two key factors will need to be considered. Firstly I would expect Moyes to extract the absolute maximum from Wenger in return for losing a key player at this juncture and secondly he will almost certainly have to use a fair chunk of the money to find a willing AND able replacement. When we lost Joleon Lescott's heart and body to City for a somewhat ludicrous £19M most Evertonians were delighted with the amount of money received (if not the whole affair). The money was spent - quickly - on 3 players. Distin has been a complete success (and great value), Heitinga has been a qualified success and Billy is just Billy - red-cards for most of his (infrequent) tackles and goals for his (infrequent) pot-shots. So whilst £18M for Jags would be a welcome surge in transfer funds available (Bill Kenright please note this) it would leave a huge gap to fill.
Perhaps however Jagielka is more expendable than say Jack Rodwell, Marouane Fellaini (when fit) or Leighton Baines - simply because Jack has huge potential and the other two are match winners for Everton - as well as two of those three being significantly younger. A solid performing centre-half such as Gary Cahill (plus he brings the promise of a few goals) at around £12-14M might leave Everton with a little cash to spare for a couple of useful fillers. The only problem is that the clock is ticking down to the first league game of the season and the question remains - if we are to do a deal with Arsenal can we move quickly enough to entice the likes of players on a par with Gary Cahill to come to Goodison?