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David Moyes must see worth of losing his battle over Joleon Lescott

Lescott is no Rooney – a Manchester City offer of £20m for the defender should be too good for Everton to refuse


The impression coming out of Everton is that David Moyes has put his future on the line over the possibility of Joleon Lescott being sold to Manchester City.He may not have said so in so many words, and is unlikely to confirm itpublicly, but the feeling of those around the proposed transfer is thatMoyes has made it plain that if Lescott is allowed to go then he willbe through the door shortly afterwards.


Practically a saintalready among Evertonians, Moyes can expect his adoration ratings torise even higher as a result of his latest hard-line stance. Whateversubsequently happens, Moyes will be seen to have done the right thing,by the club and by his principles. Yet there is a flaw in the logic.More than 35,000 Everton fans watch Lescott in action every other weekand they know he is not worth £20m, much less the absurd £30m Moyes isnow suggesting. They like him well enough, they know him as awholehearted player and determined competitor who defends well anddeserves much better than the mean‑spirited abuse he gets fromLiverpool fans. Yet they also know he is now 27, only on the peripheryof a well‑stocked area of the England team rather than an establishedinternational, and even in a silly summer was not insulted by City'soriginal offer of £15m. Not when Gareth Barry, one year older, but withtwo dozen more caps, went for £12m.


If Moyes is just playing agame to get the price to rise as high as possible then fair enough,that has been done before. But City have made a more than decent offerand have said they will not keep adding millions until the selling clubcracks (up with laughter). And when Moyes said he had no intention ofselling a key player to a rival club it sounded like an article offaith, not something that could be conveniently forgotten when theprice went up another couple of notches. Should Moyes now relent and dobusiness, he will be seen to be compromising his principles. Should hehold on to Lescott, he will have turned his back on about £20m to keepfaith with a player who was disaffected to the extent of handing in atransfer request he knew would be refused.


This is far from anunprecedented dilemma in football, yet the combination of Moyes'srighteous intransigence and City's unlimited bounty is making itcompelling. Of course one can applaud Moyes fighting for the little manin football and refusing to be bullied by a club that finished fiveplaces below Everton last season, yet at the same time one wonders whyhe views the situation so negatively – £20m is a lot of money. Lescottonly cost £5m, in instalments, and has arguably given Everton his bestyears. That is not to say he could not give City four or five goodyears, but with the money on offer Moyes could invest in a youngermodel – Gary Cahill, for instance, is also on the fringes of theEngland team and is only 23 – and have plenty to spare for furtherreinforcements. This is a club whose record transfer fee is the £15mpaid for Marouane Fellaini last year, and Moyes had to sell AndyJohnson and James McFadden to pay for that.


Moyes knows how theworld works and admirable as his desire to have the final say ontransfers may be, he is working on the assumption that Lescott willcontinue at Everton unaffected by this business. That is by no meanscertain. Roberto Martínez has only been in the Premier Leaguefive minutes and already sold Lee Cattermole for £6m, showing hisunderstanding of the fundamental unwritten rule about desire. "It wasfor the good of the club," the Wigan manager said, possibly reading aDave Whelan script, of Cattermole's move to Sunderland. "The fee is agood one and far more than the club paid for him. It is very disruptiveto the group when a player is unhappy, and having spoken to Lee it wasclear he wanted to leave. I had a decision to make and my priority wasthe club."


The new priority for Martínez is finding aneffective replacement, not easy in a short space of time, even with £6mto spend, though Wigan appear to have decided this a better option thanthe alternative. A club of Everton's stature, with a manager as highlyregarded as Moyes, ought to find it simpler to locate a new centre-halffor under £20m. Moyes appears to believe Everton should not be forcedinto becoming a selling club against their wishes, yet this is the clubthat sold Wayne Rooney, and Lescott is no Rooney. Some battles areworth fighting, some are not.


Martin O'Neill seemed to have won avictory over Liverpool's interest in Barry last summer, and certainlywon an extra season from the player, yet Aston Villa lost him to Cityin the end for far less than their £18m valuation. Some battles you canwin, and some you can't. Or perhaps it is just the way you view thebattlefield. Moyes has his pride, but £20m for Lescott would not strikeeveryone as a defeat.




The journalist who wrote this is an Evertonian (Paul Wilson)

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