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EVERTON have pipped a host of Premier League clubs to the loan signing of teenage England prospect Eric Dier from Sporting Lisbon.
The 17-year-old central defender will move to Merseyside until the end of the season, and is set to link up with Blues academy at Finch Farm.
Dier has come through the junior ranks at Sporting after his parents moved to Portugal to work when he was seven.
They have now returned to England but Dier, who has attracted interest from Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal in the past, stayed in Portugal to develop his game and is contracted to Sporting until 2013.
The 6ft 2in defender is rated so highly by England coaches that he was picked by national kit manufacturer Umbro to form part of their promotional package for last year’s new home kit.
A statement on the Sporting website read: ‘Eric Dier, central defender of the Sporting Lisbon junior team, has joined Everton on loan until June 30, 2011.
‘This is an opportunity for him to grow in a competitive and more demanding environment.’
Dier, who is regarded as a versatile, goalscoring centre-back, is bilingual and could be eligible for dual English-Portuguese nationality when he turns 18.
He also has footballing heritage as his grandfather, the late Ted Croker, was secretary of the Football Association from 1973-89 after playing as a defender for Charlton and Kidderminster.
However, he is unlikely to play for David Moyes’s first team during the loan period, when club coaches will assess whether to make a bid for his services in the summer.
Signing Dier on a permanent deal could prove more tricky for the Blues, with Sporting believed to want a significant multi million pound fee for a player they have developed from childhood.
The Cheltenham-born star is expected to return to Sporting in the summer, where he is contracted until June 2013 and has previously expressed his desire to play for the first team before signing for a Premier League club.
Meanwhile, Anderlecht playmaker Mbark Boussoufa has refused to rule out the possibility of joining Everton.
Reports suggest the Toffees have turned their attention to the Holland-born Morocco international after losing Steven Pienaar to Tottenham.
The 26-year-old won a second Le Soulier d’Or award in 2010 after being recognised as the best player in the Belgian top flight.
Although he insists he will not force Anderlecht’s hand during the January transfer window, he said a switch to England would be tempting.
He said: “Listen, I am very happy here but you never know what will happen in football,” he said.
“Once all parties are happy, you can move on. Everton? They are a very good club and to play in England would be fantastic.”
SEAMUS COLEMAN admits he has surprised himself with his rapid progress through the ranks.
Just two years ago the 22-year-old was plying his trade with Sligo Rovers in the League of Ireland.
However, yesterday the young Irishman celebrated putting pen to paper on a new four-and-a-half-year deal which keeps him at Goodison Park until the end of the 2014/15 campaign.
Coleman only signed a new contract last May but it’s a sign of the huge impression he’s made at Everton so far this season that his previous deal has been torn up.
With striker Victor Anichebe also committing himself to a new contract, it was a timely double boost for Everton boss David Moyes ahead of tomorrow’s showdown with bottom club West Ham at Goodison.
Coleman was snapped up by Moyes from Sligo for just £60,000 in January 2009 as Everton beat off interest from Ipswich, Birmingham City and Celtic.
A successful spell on loan at Blackpool followed with Coleman playing a key role in the Tangerines winning promotion to the Premier League.
This season the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has been a revelation, firmly establishing himself on Everton’s right flank and scoring five goals in 22 appearances.
“I’m over the moon to sign the contract,” Coleman said.
“My aim was to keep impressing after every contract and this new one proves that I’ve been doing well. I just want to keep going now.
“When I came over first it was a two-year contract and I treated it as a trial.
“I got a new one whilst I was at Blackpool, and to get another one so quickly was a surprise because that’s three in a short space of time.”
Coleman’s fiercely committed displays have won him plenty of admirers among the club’s supporters.
“When I go out on the pitch I get my head down and I have a go,” he said.
“Even if it’s not going well for me on the ball, I’ll keep running around and giving it 100% and the fans appreciate that."
Eric Dier, the highly regarded Sporting Lisbon centre-half, has signed on loan for Everton until the end of the season.
With the Portuguese Football Association monitoring the teenager’s progress, the FA will include Dier in the England Under-17 squad for a tournament starting on Feb 24 – on the Algarve.
Dier joins an Everton side lifted by Thursday’s news that the versatile Seamus Coleman had signed a 4½-year deal, deserved reward for some exceptional performances on the right for Everton. Victor Anichebe has also agreed a similar-length contract.
How much David Moyes uses Dier remains to be seen but the player was allowed to make the move, having just passed his 17th birthday on Jan 15.
As well as his footballing potential, Dier’s background provokes interest: his father was a tennis professional and his grandfather was the late Ted Croker, the former Charlton Athletic player and distinguished former secretary of the FA.
Dier moved to Portugal before Euro 2004 as his mother ran a company providing much of the corporate catering for the event.
“This is an opportunity for him to grow in a competitive and more demanding environment,” said Sporting, confirming the deal until June 30 for one of the brightest defensive prospects around.
Dier has already appeared in a photo-shoot with such England stars as Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere.
The FA has been aware of Dier’s development. “He’s eligible to play for England,” stressed an FA spokesman.
“He would have to make the decision to apply for a passport to play for Portugal. Our intention will be to select him for the youth squad in the coming weeks.”
One player who has just headed out of Goodison Park is Steven Pienaar, who voiced his “delight” in moving to Tottenham Hotspur and his determination to “work hard and fight for a starting place”.
Talking to Spurs TV, the South African midfielder added: “I know it won’t be easy but I am mentally strong to do that.
“As for the team, we are not far off first place in the Premier League so we’ve got a good chance to go all the way.
“There is a great manager at this club and one of my team-mates with the national team plays here and he told me about the club, that it’s a big club, it’s a club on the up that plays good football.
"The style of football is really important. I played with Rafa at Ajax and we played attacking football.”
EVERTON have signed defender Eric Dier on loan from Sporting Lisbon.
The English defender, 17, is highly rated by the Portuguese club.
Dier came through the ranks at Sporting after his parents moved to Portugal to work when he was seven.
They have now returned to England but Dier stayed in Portugal to develop his game and is contracted to Sporting until 2013.
He has attracted interest from Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal in the past.
A Sporting statement said: "Eric Dier, central defender of the Sporting Lisbon junior team, has joined Everton on loan until June 30, 2011.
"This is an opportunity for him to grow in a competitive and more demanding environment."
A statement from the Toffees added: "Everton can confirm that Eric Dier has joined the club on loan from Sporting Lisbon until the end of the season.
"The 17-year old Academy signing will train at Finch Farm whilst he is in the UK."