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Leroy Fer yesterday set his sights on helping Everton return to Europe after he completed an £8.6million move from Twente.
The Holland international, 23, has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract after Everton boss David Moyes spent a week working on the deal to land the midfielder.
Fer, who started his career at Feyenoord, took a private jet from Rotterdam yesterday afternoon.
‘Everton are in the top five at the moment and they have a real chance of playing in Europe next season,’ said Fer. ‘Since I was a young boy, I have always wanted to play in the English Premier League.
‘And now the fact that I am going to do it with one of the biggest teams in the Premier League makes this move even more special.’
Fer, whose strapping physique earned him the nickname ‘The Bouncer’ in Holland, hit the headlines last year after splashing out £22,000 on a pet horse for his girlfriend — only to realise that she couldn’t keep the stallion because she lived in a block of flats.
Everton boss Moyes may yet add to his squad before the transfer window closes on Thursday night.
He needs cover at right back and is looking at Sam Byram of Leeds and Barnsley’s John Stones.
David Moyes is poised to make his first signing of the January transfer window after Everton agreed an £8.6m fee with Twente for their powerful central midfielder Leroy Fer.
The 23-year-old, who has made two senior appearances for Holland, is due to undergo a medical and finalise personal terms on Merseyside ahead of Everton's Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday.
He has been offered a four-and-a-half-year contract with the Goodison Park club and has confirmed he wishes to join Everton's attempt to qualify for Europe next season.
"I was told about Everton's interest the day before they played Southampton [last Monday]," said Fer. "I watched the game the day after and I saw the potential in the group. I have looked at the players in the squad and love the way they play.
"Everton are in the top five and have a real chance of playing in Europe next season. From when I was a young boy, I always wanted to play in the Premier League. The fact I am going to do it with one of the biggest teams in the Premier League makes this move even more special."
Moyes has targeted a central midfielder and a striker for this transfer window but an attempt to sign the midfielder Yann M'Vila from Rennes was thwarted when the France international opted for a lucrative move to the Russian club Rubin Kazan. The Everton manager is interested in the 19-year-old Leeds United right-back Sam Byram and Barnsley's 18-year-old defender John Stones. Igor De Camargo of Borussia Mönchengladbach is also under consideration.
The size of the fee for Fer comes as a surprise after Moyes said Everton had only limited funds to bolster their attempts to qualify for the Champions League this season. He had, however, hoped the record Premier League television deal that comes into effect next season would generate additional revenue for this transfer window. Marouane Fellaini's future at Goodison has also been subjected to intense speculation this month, but Moyes is confident the Belgium international will remain an Everton player once Thursday's deadline has passed.
Everton have needed strengthening in central midfield this season with Darron Gibson sidelined by two thigh injuries and Fellaini deployed in a more advanced role behind Nikica Jelavic. Fer, who is nicknamed "the bouncer" on account of his imposing stature, offers a combative midfield presence and has been likened to Patrick Vieira and Yaya Touré in the Netherlands.
Fer graduated through the Feyenoord ranks before moving to Twente, now coached by Steve McClaren, for €5.5m in 2011. He has scored 11 goals in 38 games for the club, and after winning 25 Under-21 caps made his full international debut last August. He made headlines last year when he spent £22,000 on a horse for his girlfriend, only to sell it because she would not be able to keep it, partly on account of living in a block of flats.
Everton will sign Netherlands international Leroy Fer in the next 48 hours after agreeing a deal with FC Twente.
The Toffees have been in talks with Dutch side over the imposing midfielder and the Premier League club have confirmed a deal has been agreed.
The player will now travel to Merseyside to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical with his transfer expected to be completed before the close of the January window this Thursday.
It's thought the 23-year-old box-to-box midfielder, known as 'The Bouncer' due to his style, will cost in the region of £7m to bring to Goodison Park.
Should the deal for the twice capped former Feyernoord player go through, it will inevitably lead to speculation over the future of Marouane Fellaini.
The Belgian has been in devastating form this term, helping propel Everton to fifth in the Premier League, leading to speculation that he could be set for a transfer.
The Toffees' funding is limited, meaning a £7m move for Fer is unlikely to be sanctioned without impending sales, either this month or in the summer, to balance the books.
LEROY FER believes he will realise his dream of playing for “one of the biggest teams in the Premier League” by moving to Everton.
The Goodison outfit yesterday announced a surprise £8.5million deal with FC Twente for the 23-year-old Dutch midfielder.
It represents a major coup for David Moyes, who has managed to persuade the club’s board to release more funds to sign the Holland international ahead of Thursday’s transfer window.
And the business may not end there with the Everton manager still working on bringing in at least one more fresh face to bolster his side’s hopes of securing Champions League qualification and lifting the FA Cup.
Fer flew to Merseyside yesterday and will undergo a medical before putting pen to paper on a four-and-a-half year contract.
And he revealed: “I was told about Everton's interest the day before they played Southampton. I watched the game the day after and I saw the potential in the group.
“I have looked at the players in the squad and love the way they play. Everton are in the top five and have a real chance of playing in Europe next season.
“From when I was a young boy, I always wanted to play in the Premier League. The fact I am going to do it with one of the biggest teams in the Premier League makes this move even more special.”
Fer made his final appearance for Steve McLaren’s FC Twente during the goalless draw at Feyenoord at the weekend.
The 6ft 2ins midfielder, who has won two caps for Holland, began his career at Feyenoord before departing in 2011.
He has scored 11 goals in 40 league games for Twente and featured in their run to the Europa League round of 16 last season when they were eliminated by Bundesliga side Schalke.
Should there be no hitches in the transfer, Fer will be eligible to feature in Everton’s FA Cup fifth round tie at Oldham Athletic next month.
And skipper Phil Neville admits Everton were fortunate to emerge from their fourth-round showdown at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday with a 2-1 victory.
“It was probably bordering on a little bit lucky in the end,” he said. “We set off really well and for the first 15 or 20 minutes we looked as though we'd found our rhythm.
“The goal came at the end of a period of total domination and I thought it was going to be a quite simple game to win.
“Then, obviously, we conceded a goal and after that Bolton put us under a lot of pressure and we didn't play well enough after that.
“It was a proper cup tie and sometimes in a cup tie you just need to make sure you're in the hat for the next round. And that's what we are.”
KNOWN as ‘The Bouncer’ in his native Netherlands because of his imposing physical presence, it’s perhaps natural that Leroy Fer has attracted comparisons to the former Arsenal midfield enforcer Patrick Vieira.
However, Dutch football commentator Fabian Bijman of Voetbal Primeur believes the 23-year-old’s style is more reminiscent of compatriot Frank Rijkaard.
Until this week, Fer was best known outside of his homeland for splashing out £22,000 on a former race horse called Django for his girlfriend – only for her to point out to him that the gift was unsuitable seeing as she lives in an apartment block.
While that extravagant equine purchase made Fer the butt of the odd dressing room joke, he commands the utmost respect on the pitch and given the player’s box-to-box style, David Moyes will be hoping his long legs have the staying power for the Premier League after the Scot came up on the rails to complete the shock transfer so late in the January window.
Bijman said: “He’s regarded as one of the main guys in midfield in the Dutch international side for the future and is expected to be going to the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
“The way he plays, he reminds me of Frank Rijkaard. He’s a tall guy (6ft 2in), a strong guy – an impressive guy to see.
“He’s a box-to-box midfielder who likes to throw in a tackle and I think he’ll be ideally suited for English football in general and Everton in particular. I think coming to the Premier League will make him even stronger.”
Born in the small South Holland town of Zoetermeer, Fer came up through the youth ranks of Feyenoord and made his debut aged 17 – replacing on-loan Nuri Sahin – who also had a spell on loan at Liverpool in the first half of this season.
Fer’s all-action style made him a popular figure amongst the fans and many were left upset when he departed Rotterdam.
The Dutch word for traitor is ‘Verrander’ and some Feyenoord die-hards dubbed their former man ‘Fer-rander’.
Bijman said: “Leroy was influential right from the start. Feyenoord is a club with really passionate supporters and while they don’t always demand great technical attributes from their players, they expect those in their side to display plenty of heart.
“There were lots of financial problems at Feyenoord though and after a couple of poor seasons for the team he was transferred to Twente.
“Twente were seen as a much more sound option at the time. They were Dutch champions and qualifying for Europe every year but financially their house was also in order and they always kept both feet on the ground.”
Fer’s displays for the Enschede-based outfit attracted plenty of interest from abroad with Italian giants Juventus tracking his progress and a move to Benfica in Portugal also mooted.
Bijman said: “Twente have done lots of business with Benfica in recent years and when they took Ola John, there was talk of Fer going there too amongst the same conversations but I think he will be really suited to the English game, especially Everton.
“There is a real respect for Everton in Holland and they’re seen as a huge club with passionate fans.
“David Moyes is regarded as a great coach the way he has had to sell many good players over the years but consistently produces sides that finish in the top half of the world’s toughest league.”
Despite the Scot’s previous problems with some of his Dutch recruits – Andy van der Meyde and Royston Drenthe – Bijman does not believe there will be any similar problems with Fer.
He said: “You can’t compare Leroy with van der Meyde. As he mentioned in his autobiography, he was already done and dusted with football when he left Italy.
“Drenthe is a different type of guy again. He grew up in the rough neighbourhoods of Rotterdam and has always had to fight to earn respect.
“His mind is made up where exactly he’s going to play on the football pitch and he is quick to voice his concerns.
“He’s a really good footballer but those attributes have backfired on him throughout his career and you’re still seeing that now because as we speak he hasn’t got a club.
“Fer in contrast is a really calm guy and is very laid back. He’s a workhorse who just wants to play football and make his family happy. I don’t think Moyes will have any trouble from him.”
EVERTON will wear a special one-off birthday shirt on Saturday against Aston Villa – to celebrate 25 years of the club’s pioneering Everton in the Community initiative.
Shirt sponsors Chang have agreed to donate their advertising space on the Blues shirt for one game only.
Instead of the brewer’s name, the Blues will wear shirts carrying a special Everton in the Community 25 years logo.
Everton in the Community was established on February 1, 1988 and over the last 25 years has grown to be one of the most well-respected and pioneering sporting charities in the UK.
To mark the silver jubilee anniversary, the charity is inviting all Evertonians to be part of an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise £1million to help the charity in its mission to support even more vulnerable and underprivileged people on Merseyside – for the next 25 years and beyond.
Everton in the Community is asking 40,000 supporters, the capacity of Goodison Park, to each raise just £25 to help achieve their target.
Chang’s willingness to give up their shirt branding for a match is evidence of the rapport between the Blues and Thai beer brand, a relationship which goes back to 2004.
The specially designed shirt is part of a number of activities being staged to celebrate Everton in the Community’s 25th anniversary, with supporters also set to be treated to a host of entertainment ahead of kick-off on the day.
Everton in the Community staff and volunteers will be on hand outside the stadium to encourage supporters to get in the party spirit. There will be giveaways, music, special appearances and face painting on the Everton Road Show.
Tickets are still available for the Aston Villa fixture on 0871 663 1878, by visiting the Park End Box Office, the Ticket Quarter, Everton Two or online at evertonfc.com/eticketing.
THE significance of January signings was underlined by Everton’s dramatic 2011/12 transformation.
This time last year, the Blues lay 14th in the Premier League table – with title-chasing Manchester City and Chelsea the next two ominous visitors to Goodison.
Cue the arrival of a quartet of quality squad additions – Darron Gibson and Nikica Jelavic in cut-price deals – and Landon Donovan and Steven Pienaar on-loan; and the Blues set off on a meteoric surge up the Premier League table which ended with a seventh place finish and an FA Cup semi-final.
Fast forward 12-months and Everton are hopefully starting their second half of the season surge from a position of strength.
Currently fifth, with back-to-back home games to come, Blues fans are hoping that the imminent arrival of Leroy Fer will consolidate their push for a place in European football next term.
“It freshens the place up, gets players on their toes, all of those things,” said goalkeeper Tim Howard.
“But no matter what it’s a good thing to have numbers and have good players. They’re always welcome at this club. I don’t know much about him, but we’ll learn.”
Fer will not be involved against West Bromwich Albion tomorrow, but could be signed in time to make his debut against Aston Villa.
He played the full 90 minutes of Twente’s 0-0 draw at Feyenoord on Sunday, a result which kept Steve McLaren’s side just a point behind league leaders PSV.
His new employers entertain West Bromwich Albion tomorrow evening, looking to extend the gap between themselves and the eighth-placed Baggies, and maybe exact just a little revenge.
The Blues have only lost three league games all season – and the first came at The Hawthorns in September.
“We didn’t play so well down there and we got what was coming to us,” added Howard.
“We’re playing better now but they’re on our patch so we have to take it to them this time and dictate the tempo.
“Obviously a win would be really good, but it’s a tough week for us.
“We’ve had Bolton, then it’s West Brom and then Aston Villa. But right now it’s the Baggies and we’ll try and take care of them if we can.”
Despite the gruelling winter fixture list which has seen the Blues’ small squad fulfil eight fixtures in 36 days, Howard added: “Morale around the camp is brilliant. we’ve had a few good results and obviously we’re going well.
“There is a build up of games and that’s always difficult, but I think you’ll see a lot of teams paying the price for that fixture congestion
“But it is what it is, and if we can come out of this January period just as strong then we’ll soon start to see the games spread out a little bit more, Saturday to Saturday again.”
And Howard has no issues about possible fixture congestion caused by a Cup run.
Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Bolton put Everton into the last 16 of the FA Cup, with a trip to Liverpool’s conquerors Oldham Athletic up next in the fifth round.
“Obviously we’re still in the Cup and those games are always welcome,” he said.
“It’s a buzz to win – then to have those two or three weeks before the next round – it motivates you. Even if you’ve drawn a game in the league you still have that cup tie focused on the horizon. The Cup is special.
“It will be a tough draw in the next round, but I’m sure Jose Baxter enjoyed it – at least until I try to kick him up in the air!”