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DAVID MOYES today unveiled his blueprint for Everton FC success – build a team around hot-shot Nikica Jelavic.
The Blues boss admits he has been revitalised by the impact of the £5.5m Croatian striker, who has scored 10 goals since arriving in January, and wants to buy players who can complement him in the summer.
That means securing a permanent deal for Steven Pienaar is Moyes’ first priority, and after that he is pin-pointing further creativity for his side.
He said: “We’re now looking at what goes with Jelavic, what would be good to put with him, what type of player we can buy in the future.
“In your mind, you are building a team because you have a piece in the jigsaw.
“We have had pieces in the jigsaw in the past such as, in the main, having good centre-halves, we have an excellent left-back, we have good midfield players.
“Where we have often been short is in terms of creativity.
“We lost Steven Pienaar, we lost Mikel Arteta and we didn’t have a forward who could score lots of goals.
“Suddenly we have a forward who can score but we are maybe still lacking a wee bit of creativity.
“Steven’s brought us some more creativity since he’s been back.
“Steven is undoubtedly one of the bits of business we need to do.”
The Toffees capitalised on Rangers’ financial woes by doing a cut-price deal for the 26-year-old Croatian international in January, and Moyes is still surprised he was able to secure such a potent goalscorer for £5.5m.
“I can see in my head pictures and directions of where I think we should be going and what players we need to get, which players can help us progress again,” he said.
“Jelavic is a massive piece.
“For a decent value, how else could you get a striker who might get you 20 goals a season in the Premier League? Normally, for that piece you are looking at £15-20m.
“There are bits of building blocks now.
“At the end of the season, I’ll have a chat with Bill and see where we should go.”
EVERTON FC are set to offer forward Jose Baxter a new two-year contract, keeping him at Goodison until 2014.
The 20-year-old academy graduate did enough during an impressive loan spell at Tranmere Rovers last year to convince David Moyes he can still be a long-term part of his first team squad.
Baxter, who is from Litherland, joined the League One outfit in September 2011 and went on to score on his debut against Preston North End, with then Rovers boss Les Parry extending the Prenton Park loan on several occasions.
However, the former England under-17s international was recalled by Moyes in January, and went on to shine for Alan Stubbs’ reserve side as the second-string went on an unbeaten 13-game run to finish third in their league.
Baxter has been rewarded for his efforts with a place on the bench for recent first team games against Stoke City and Wolves in the Premier League, and is now ready to put pen to paper on his contract.
He had previously become Everton’s youngest ever senior player after making his professional bow on the opening day of the 2008/09 season as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers aged 16.
Baxter was then named in the Blues starting line-up to play West Brom at The Hawthorns, becoming the youngest Everton player ever to start a game, and in March 2009 signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract.
Now he will hope to follow in the path of Leon Osman, who also completed loan spells away from Goodison in the early part of his career before going on to establish himself as a senior player under Moyes.
VICTOR ANICHEBE insists he expects more from himself next season – as he vowed to come back stronger and fitter than ever for Everton FC.
The 24-year-old striker has enjoyed a strong second half of the current campaign, with five goals in just 13 appearances since January, but still regrets not being able to find the consistency he craves.
Nigerian international Anichebe has mostly been deployed on the flanks by David Moyes this term, and although he admits he will play anywhere for the Blues, he believes he is most suited to a striking role next season.
He said: “Considering the amount of appearances I’ve actually made it’s a good (goal) return, but hopefully next year I will be playing more games and playing from the start while staying injury free.
“I expect more from myself. I need to apply that next year and be better. Someone was telling me about my goals to games ratio and it’s nice to know but I don’t want to look too much into it.
"I’d prefer to play more games and more minutes. Hopefully when I’m fitter and stronger I can do that from the start.
“I see myself as a forward. I don’t if it’s a number nine or behind that, or just drifting but I’ve had experience of playing all these now. As long as I am helping the team I can’t really complain.
“Going on I see myself as playing up front.”
Anichebe, who is likely to miss the final game of the season against Newcastle on Sunday, is a silver Olympic medallist after he made his Nigerian bow during the 2008 Beijing games, and he admits he is excited about this summer’s games in London.
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“It was amazing,” said the 11-cap forward. “I don’t think the whole experience has really sunk in yet – even four years later. Maybe I’ll appreciate it more when I’m older.
“The most memorable thing was getting to the Olympic village and seeing Usain Bolt and Andy Murray walking around. Then there was the Argentinean team with Messi, Sergio Aguero and Javier Mascherano.
“They won it in the end and you can see why. Just being round them was great, and it was nice being around top athletes from lots of different sports not just football.”
But the academy graduate is more focused on helping Everton make a strong start to 2012/13.
He said: “There’s lots of optimism for next season.
“The way we’ve finished on a good high, the players that have come in have made a big difference, and hopefully we can bring it into next season this time.”