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MAROUANE FELLAINI does have a buy-out clause in the lucrative contract he signed at Goodison in 2011 – but Everton FC hope they can satisfy the Belgian’s Champions League ambitions on Merseyside.
Reports yesterday claimed that Fellaini could be prised from the Blues if a Champions League club bids £22 million or more for his services.
There is a buy-out clause in Fellaini’s contract – placed there at the request of his representatives – but the trigger fee is higher than the £22m reported.
Everton officials, who refused to comment on the story, believe a top-four finish this season would convince Fellaini to stay.
Chelsea are reported to be the club ready to test Everton’s resolve to keep hold of their talented 25-year-old, but not until the summer.
The Blues will not comment on possible transfer scenarios and refused to even discuss the possibility of Fellaini’s exit.
But it is understood that Chelsea, who took advantage of a similar buy-out clause to sign Demba Ba from Newcastle, see Fellaini as a long-term replacement for Frank Lampard.
No bid is anticipated in January, and Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez was coy about any interest.
“You know and we know we will see a lot of names in the newspapers,” he said.
“Sometimes it is because it’s true, sometimes it’s the agents, sometimes it’s because they don’t have anything to talk about.
“It is normal in the transfer market but for us we just concentrate on football and playing Swansea.
“I am really pleased with my squad, with my players, they are doing well and hopefully we can improve them.
“I will not talk about the market, sorry. I know it is January but we do our business between us.
“If we have to do something, we’ll do it. I have to respect and trust my players. That’s what I will do.”
Fellaini appears in no rush to quit Goodison. Only 10 days ago he indicated a willingness to see out the contract which made him the highest paid player at the club.
“I have a contract with Everton until 2016, and, if the club want, I will see that out,” he said. “I know I am hot, and I want to move forward one day, but I will finish my Everton contract if they want me to.”
Suggestions that Chelsea may try to tempt Everton with a lower offer would be met with a frosty response by the Blues. Despite posting losses of £9m last week for the year ending June 2012 Everton are not in a position where they have to sell and believe the increased loss will be cancelled out in their next accounts.
Reacting to speculation about Victor Anichebe on Monday night, David Moyes said he had no intention of selling anybody in January.
LEON OSMAN believes the current Everton FC team is the best since he made his debut a decade ago.
But the midfielder admits the acid test will be for David Moyes’ side to maintain their current high standards over an entire campaign.
The Toffees are lying fifth in the Barclays Premier League and are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup after Monday night’s 5-1 win at Cheltenham.
But too often they have failed to fire on all cylinders for an entire campaign and often have had to play catch-up after a poor start.
Osman, who was among the scorers at Whaddon Road, said: “I would say this is probably the best Everton team in my time here.
“We’ve had some good teams over the years and some good seasons where we’ve finished high up in the league and got to cup finals.
“But, with the football we are playing and the games we are winning, I’d have to say this is the best team.
“We’ve got a bit of variety to our game. We pass but we are happy to go direct as well and mix the game up. That’s difficult to defend against I suppose.
“We hope we are getting closer to winning a trophy. We’ve been developing as a team and we are finding the way to win games now.
“We drew a lot at the start of the season. Hopefully we’ve found a way to turn them into wins and that will put us in good stead until the end of the season.”
But Osman warned: “Maintaining things for the whole season, that will be the test.
“In the past we’ve managed it for half a season, most of the time during the second half of the season.
“We’ve had a reasonably good start this time and can we maintain it over the whole season? We need to have a bit of luck, keep our important players fit for long spells.”
SOUTHPORT FC’s newly-named Merseyrail Community Stadium will be the stage for Everton Under-21s Group One Development League fixtures for the next two-and-a-half years.
Alan Stubbs’ young Blues have agreed a deal to play the remainder of this season’s fixtures at the former Haig Avenue – and then the subsequent two seasons as well.
Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Fulham, Middlesbrough and Sunderland are all still to visit the Blues this season.
Southport’s commercial director, Haydn Preece, said: “We are very excited to have Everton returning to the Merseyrail Community Stadium. It raises the club’s overall profile on Merseyside and we are looking to encourage Everton supporters to come down to the Stadium for our Blue Square Bet Premier fixtures when Everton are away or not playing on a Saturday.
“We are also looking to be a partner with our community projects and commercial activities.
“Liam Watson knows David Moyes from their time together at Preston so we have a number of areas where the link up can be very positive for Southport Football Club.
“We are looking forward to working closely with David Harrison Head of Football Operations/Club Secretary, Rachael Sutton and the Everton backroom team who will work with us to put these prestigious fixtures on.”
Everton and Southport Season Ticket Holders and Foreverton members are able to gain free admission with members of the public being able to gain access by payment at the turnstiles (adults £5, concessions £3).
Everton manager David Moyes and Fulham's Martin Jol are rivals for Argentinian winger Matias Schelotto, 23.
Schelotto plays for Atalanta in Italy and both Premier League clubs have been quick to move for the £5million man amid interest from leading Italian outfits.
Leon Osman says Everton's side is the best he has played in and wants to mark his 10th anniversary with silverware.
Mirror Sport columnist Andy Dunn also believes that David Moyes deserves to win a trophy with Everton.
Midfielder Osman made his debut for the Goodison club a decade ago this weekend.
And he is desperate David Moyes' men, who are fifth in the Premier League, finally lift a trophy to show for their efforts.
The 31-year-old grabbed his fifth goal of the season at Cheltenham to help Everton into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The England international said: "I've had some great memories but I don't think we've won anything since I've been playing.
"I'd love to finally win something for the club.
"There is a real determination every year.
"You'd rather get closer than further away.
"We've been developing as a team and we are finding the way to win games now.
"We've drawn a lot at the start of the season but hopefully we've found a way to turn them into wins and that will put us in good stead.
"We've had some good teams over the years since I've been here and some good seasons where we've finished high up in the league and got to cup finals.
"But with the football we are playing and the games we are winning, I'd have to say this is the best team.
"We've got a bit of variety to our game. We pass but we are happy to go direct as well and mix the game up.
"That's difficult to defend against.
"But you don't always get what you deserve.
"You don't just get to win a cup because you've done well and deserve it.
"It's up to us as a group of players, managers and staff included, to try and turn what is deserved into actually doing something."
LEON OSMAN believes the best way to convince David Moyes to stay at Everton is to put some silverware in the trophy cabinet this season.
Highly-rated Moyes is out of contract at the end of the season and is linked with a move away from Goodison whenever a top job becomes vacant.
But England midfielder Osman, who celebrates 10 years as a Toffee on Saturday, believes winning a trophy could be enough to persuade Moyes to sign a new deal.
Osman said: “I’ve got some great memories from the 10 years I’ve played, but I don’t think we have actually won anything in that time. I’d love to finally do that.
“The manager has been a fantastic servant to the club and if he was to leave, I would be really disappointed.
“Would it be wrong if his time here ends eventually without him winning a trophy? Well, he certainly deserves to.
“But we all know in football that you don’t always get what you deserve. You don’t just win a cup because you deserve it.
“It is up to us as a group of players, managers and staff included, to try and turn what is deserved into actually doing something. We feel we have a chance. We are finding the way to win games now, where we drew a lot at the start of the season.
“In the past we’ve managed that for half a season, most of the time in the second half.
“This time we have had a reasonably good start and the test will come to see if we can maintain it.”
Osman won his first England cap in November and will make his 325th appearance for Everton when Swansea visit Goodison Park.
The 31-year-old, who scored in Monday’s ruthless 5-1 FA Cup win at League Two Cheltenham, believes the Toffees have never been better in his time at the club.
“I would say this probably is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been at the club,” he said.
“We’ve had some good sides over the years, and some good seasons where we have finished high up in the league and got to cup finals.
“But, with the football we are playing and the games we are winning, I’d have to say this is the best team. We’ve got a bit of variety to our game. We pass but we are happy to go direct as well and mix the game up. That is difficult for anybody to defend against.
“We’ve had a difficult Christmas period with some really tough games but some good results, so we are bound to feel a bit tired now.
“But you saw how everybody wanted to play at Cheltenham – nobody wanted a rest and that’s how it will be.
“We’ve got a period where there will be just one game a week, so we’ve got the chance to stay in good shape and hopefully kick on.
“I wasn’t at all surprised the manager picked such a strong side. He signalled his attitude towards the game and we played it with the same determination.
“That’s typical of the spirit in this side. As well as the quality, there’s a good attitude and nobody wants to sit out.”
Fulham are vying with Club Bruges for Junior Malanda, the 18-year-old defensive midfielder valued by Zulte Waregem at about £2.3million.
Bruges consider him a replacement for Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, who has been linked with a move to Everton or a club in Portugal.
Alan Bennett, the Cheltenham Town captain, has revealed Marouane Fellaini, the Everton midfielder, sympathised with him for the penalty given in their 5-1 FA Cup third-round win at the Abbey Business Stadium on Monday. Bennett was penalised by Kevin Friend, the referee, for climbing over Fellaini as he tried to head away a cross. Bennett said: "I said to the ref at least I got one apology. He said it was stonewall."