Arguments for both sides can be made.
It is a fascinating story but if we all know David Moyes, it is this, he is a man of principles. I think he is one of those vastly under rated managers who has proven both tough and shrewd with his signings. Today, Moyes rejected City’s offer for Lescott.
Moyes said: “Joleon Lescott put in a written transfer request this morning which I immediately rejected. We will continue to work with him as we appreciate his many qualities as a player. I have said all along that I have no intention of selling my best players. Joleon is simply not for sale.”
A couple of points.
Everton’s success is built around a narrow bandwidth
Since becoming manager in 2002, he has transformed the quality of the midfield and the defense. Like Pep Guardiola who changed Iniesta from a number four to an attacking midfielder, Moyes gets tremendous credit for molding Mikel Arteta into a creative force. The former La Masia product at the top of his game is as good as Cesc Fabregas.
Arteta’s absence last season was less felt as Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar stepped up admirably. At this point, the midfield is on arguably on par with Man Utd and Arsenal’s. They can score goals as Fellaini and Tim Cahill both combined for 16 goals.
The midfield outburst pushed up Everton’s tally to 55 goals which was just as well as the attack had to rely less on the potentially potent but inconsistent and injured duo of Louis Saha and Yakubu Aiyegbeni. These signings remain a question mark.
The attack should improve with Arteta’s return but if we examine the league positions of Everton in the last three seasons, it is a team that enjoys a healthy goal differential with a very narrow bandwidth. Everton’s achieved a sixth place in 2007 with a GD of +16. It improved to fifth place in the next two seasons with a GD of +22 and +18. In that time there were 52, 55, and 55 goals scored against 36, 33, and 37 goals given up. Before these seasons, Everton slipped down the table to finish in 11th position in the 2005 season with a -15 GD as it tanked in scoring as well as defending.
Moyes stamp of success took him all of three years to achieve and it is predicated on holding onto a squad that he began rebuilding in earnest three years ago. Any transfer as big as Lescott’s will shake this delicate balance.
Lescott gives much needed flexibility in the absence of Jagielka
Joleon Lescott is protean. Originally, a central defender, he has seen success as a left back. He moved out to the wing when Phil Jagielka and Joseph Yobo combined well two seasons ago. When Yobo got hurt Moyes shifted him back to the center back position. The transition proved so effective that it pushed Yobo to the bench. But Jagielka’s injury in April reintroduced Yobo into the starting XI and the Nigerian combined well with Lescott.
Leighton Baines was pushed out to left back and proved to be very effective down the left flank with Pienaar. With Jagielka out till December with an ACL repair, Lescott will once again be paired up with Yobo. The other option is Jack Rodwell whose erstwhile role as a holding midfielder is being changed under Moyes tutelage to a center back prospect. He is Lescott’s long term replacement but requires another season to take over.
Moyes is still negotiating with Arsenal on Senderos who will compete with Yobo for Jagielka’s position. But the window of time is getting tight with Everton’s first match against Arsenal this Saturday. Finding a replacement even half as comparable to Lescott’s quality will be very, very difficult.
Still in the football business passing up £20m is a huge gamble but Lescott might be worth even more next season. Now, Moyes has to persuade him to remain in Everton and play distraction free.
Arguments for both sides can be made.