Phil Neville has been nothing but a loyal servant to the cause at Goodison Park; but has the time come to let him go when his contract expires this summer?
Everton are seeing many of their biggest names courted by perhaps more affluent clubs and locations. The clubs two main assets are Maraoune Fellaini and Leighton Baines and both talents are reportedly receiving large amounts of interest from around the country and the continent.
Perhaps even more worrying is the contract situation of David Moyes. The Everton gaffer is out of employment with the club at the end of the season and rumours are stronger than ever that he may have finally decided he has taken the club as far as he can take them.
That would be one free transfer that Everton may not want to let transpire.
On the other hand there is one stalwart of the club that Everton should certainly consider letting go with minimum fuss.
Phil Neville has been at Goodison Park since 2005 and has since gone on to be nothing less than an exemplary professional at the club. His versatility has seen him play all over the pitch with perhaps his best moments coming at the heart of the Everton midfield.
At the end of this season however Neville’s contract expires; and although talks are reportedly open about extending his career on Merseyside with a rolling contract you have to wonder if that is the correct course of action.
This season it seems the 36-year-old has finally allowed the stresses of his advancing age to start taking their toll. He suffered with a knee injury earlier in the campaign and it would take the most avid of Neville fans, of which I am one, to argue that his form has not dipped significantly this year.
Everton are not blessed with a large wage bill so the extra budget would be appreciated and Neville himself is not a man blinded with pride. Just this week he announced he would have no qualms dropping down the divisions to play regular football:
"For me, I want to continue playing as long as possible, so I'm not embarrassed to go down the leagues. I think you can still have as much fun playing in the lower leagues as you can in the Premier League.’’
Neville has also indicated a desire to become a coach and is off to the European Under-21 Championships in Israel this summer to help Stuart Pearce and co with the coaching of England’s future stars. He could make the first steps into this career path in the lower leagues.
As far as Everton are concerned to build on their success this season they need to remain a side swamped with quality. Now it seems Neville is no longer at the standard necessary to get a team into Europe.
This summer it is time to say thank you and goodbye for now to Neville at Everton; with both hopefully going on to bigger and better things in their separate ways.
Do you think Everton should let Neville go this summer?