Everton would be powerless to prevent David Moyes returning for prized assets Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines this summer amid concern their manager will not be the last employee to leave for Manchester United.
Moyes will join United as a free agent on 1 July after 11 years with Everton and is therefore entitled to return to his former club with offers for their key players. Baines has long been linked with a move to Old Trafford, though Everton have never received an approach from United for the England international, while Fellaini is expected to depart at the end of the season in search of Champions League football.
Everton insist they do not have to cash in on players this summer to appease the bank, with the next season's record-breaking television deal worth an extra £20m for each Premier League club and bringing greater stability to the finances at Goodison Park. That would strengthen their hold on Baines but Everton would have to accept a £24m offer from a Champions League club for Fellaini due to a buyout clause in the contract agreed with the Belgium international last year.
Members of Everton's coaching staff, such as assistant manager Steve Round, and productive youth academy system could also follow Moyes to Old Trafford.
With Everton heading for a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League, the additional television revenue and prospect of further funds from Fellaini, the club are confident of appointing an "equally significant" successor to Moyes, according to the chairman, Bill Kenwright. Everton were caught out by United's move for their long-serving manager who, despite delaying a decision on whether to sign a new contract at Goodison until the end of the season, they had anticipated would stay.
Goodison officials will not rush to appoint his replacement with Moyes remaining in charge for the final two games of the season, at home to West Ham on Sunday – there has been a surge in ticket sales since the manager's exit was confirmed – and Chelsea away on the final day. They are, however, starting with a flexible shortlist that includes Neil Lennon of Celtic, Swansea City's Michael Laudrup, Roberto Martínez of Wigan Athletic and Porto's Vitor Pereira. Representatives acting on behalf of Pereira have registered his interest since news of Moyes's move to Old Trafford broke.
Everton have had contact with a representative of Lennon, who would be keen on a move to Merseyside and has a track record not only of success at Celtic but of increasing the value of his astute signings. Phil Neville, the Everton club captain, is also attracted by the position and Mark Hughes has declared an interest, much to the chagrin of the club's supporters.
Laudrup would appear beyond Everton even at this early stage. The Dane signed a new contract with Swansea after victory in the Capital One Cup Final that is believed to contain a release clause of around £10m. That figure is likely to be way beyond Everton's reach for a manager. The Swansea chairman, Huw Jenkins, said on Thursday: "Michael has made it clear he is not looking to move on. He is doing a job he loves doing and he is happy here. He is different from some managers. He is not on the ladder to try to get to the top."
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