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EVERTON are likely to miss out on long-term attacking target Nick Powell this summer – but could be in with a chance of bolstering their midfield with German international Lewis Holtby.
The Blues have sent scouts to watch 18-year-old sensation Powell on several occasions, with David Moyes personally running the rule over the 6ft attacker who scored 16 goals as his side won promotion to Npower League One via the play-offs.
Powell, who scored a stunning strike in the play-off final against Cheltenham, is keen to remain in the North-West, but even though he also wants to play first team football, Toffees sources are certain his heart is set on a £5m move to Manchester United, especially after Crewe gave Alex Ferguson permission to talk terms with the teenager.
Holtby, however, has revealed he would love to play for Everton in the Premier League, and could come into Moyes’ thinking if he has funds at his disposal following player sales.
The Schalke 04 midfielder has talked up a move to the English top-flight, describing his boyhood club Everton, and Arsenal, as his two favourite sides.
The 21-year-old, who shares dual English and Germany nationality, has made 36 league appearances since making his debut in 2009, netting five times, and has won two caps for the German national team.
“I have always said that my aim is to come to the Premier League one day because I love the league,” said Holtby, who missed out on Joachim Low’s Euro 2012 squad.
“My father is English and of course my favourite teams are Everton and Arsenal.
“My father was born in England and was an Everton fan since the age of five. He immediately infected me with the Everton virus! Since then I have been an Everton fan and have always followed their games.
“My thoughts now are first with Schalke but you never know.”
Meanwhile, Everton have confirmed two more pre-season friendlies, against Blackpool and Motherwell.
The Toffees will head to Motherwell on Saturday, July 21 before facing Ian Holloway’s men on Sunday, August 5. Those fixtures join two already confirmed friendlies against Morecambe and Dundee United.
The game against Motherwell at Fir Park takes place three days after the Dundee United game and is a testimonial for long-serving ‘Well player Stevie Hammell.
The Bloomfield Road visit in August is also a testimonial, with former Everton reserve team captain Keith Southern the player being honoured.
Tangerines midfielder Southern said: “I’m absolutely delighted.
“I got wind yesterday that it was definitely going to be Everton, which is perfect.
“When I signed a new contract in September and was told I would have a testimonial there was only one club I really wanted it to be against.”
NIKICA JELAVIC’S impact for Everton was “unbelievable” – according to the man who hopes the striker’s exciting form continues in Euro 2012.
Jelavic has scored 11 goals since joining the Toffees in a £5.5m January deal, and quickly came to be regarded as one of the best signings of the Premier League season alongside Newcastle goal-machine Papiss Cisse.
Now former Blues defender and Croatian national coach Slaven Bilic has admitted that Jelavic will be one of his main assets, ahead of their first game of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine against Ireland on Sunday.
The 26-year-old was already a regular in the Croatia squad, but his performances for the Blues have made him more likely to figure, particularly as Ivica Olic has been ruled out through injury.
“His impact was so strong and so sudden that it was quite unbelievable,” Bilic said. “He is one of our biggest assets in this tournament, especially now that we’ve lost Olic.”
Some have questioned whether Jelavic fits into Croatia’s system, after he has previously failed to replicate his scoring on a domestic level for his country, but Bilic is adamant the former Rapid Vienna front man’s qualities fit well.
“I don’t think we need to adapt our play to Jelavic – not more than to any other player in the team, anyway. He’s fantastic, a modern version of the classic ‘No9’ who needs very little space to convert a chance,” he said.
“Playing like he does is the hardest thing for a striker today. People ask how is it possible that he can score twice against Manchester United, but not once against Georgia in the qualifiers, and blame that on our system.
“Well, it’s because against United he can use his skills to find the space between three world-class opposing players in the box – he’s that good.
“But Georgia had eight players in the box whenever we tried to attack and no system would make it easier for a striker in those circumstances.”
And Bilic also believes the quality of service Jelavic will receive from international team-mate Darijo Srna betters that of his supply at club level.
He added: “Besides, I think Jelavic will get more useful balls from our players than he receives at Everton. There he works very well with Tony Hibbert, who was a youth player when I played for the Toffees and I’m really glad he has had such an accomplished career with the club.
“But I hope I won’t offend Hibbie if I say that Darijo Srna crosses the ball better and more often than he does. I also have to say that Jelavic’s contribution cannot be measured by goals alone. The opponents know just how dangerous he can be and have to work hard to cover him, which enables us to move our line to 20 metres from their goal and press them.
Bilic is stepping down from his role as Croatia boss after the tournament to take up the managerial post at Lokomotiv Moscow.
And he insists he has left nothing to chance in preparation for the tournament, and Sunday’s game which could see Jelavic face Everton team-mate Darron Gibson – if the midfielder has managed to convince boss Giovanni Trapattoni.
“We have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C if necessary,” said Bilic.
“I have big respect for the Irish team, they are very good, very impressive.”