Everton latest: Argentine midfield targeted as Irvine says goodbye

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Everton lost academy director Alan Irvine over the weekend as the former Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday boss was the surprise choice to replace Pepe Mel as the manager of West Bromwich Albion. The Scot, 55, has had a long running association with Everton from before he took the Preston job, and he said it was hard to leave Goodison Park again.

"It was a really difficult opportunity to turn down," said Irvine. "I loved my time as Academy Director at Everton and I can't thank the Club enough for all the support they have given me. I certainly wasn't looking to move away but this opportunity came up and it's a fantastic opportunity for me. How do you turn down the chance to manage in the Premier League?"

"But Everton is my Club and it's a Club that since the first day I started as a player right through to now has been a special place for me. I've been extremely fortunate in that I've worked at some really good clubs and I've been really well looked after everywhere I've been. But there's something special about Everton and it's really, really difficult to move on from here because of what it does mean. I also can't thank people enough for what they've done while I've been here," he added.

Manager Roberto Martinez will be hoping to keep the departures down to a minimum after Irvine's exit, especially when it comes to his playing squad. The likes of Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley and James McCarthy have all been linked with moves away from the club, yet a shock name to be quizzed over his future was winger Steven Pienaar, but the South African says he has no intention of leaving the Toffees

“I’m definitely staying,” said Pienaar. “My goals are to stay fit and feature in as many games as possible.” Pienaar was also asked about a potential return to his homeland having started his career with Ajax Cape Town, but he played that down too. “It’s not something that I have really thought about, so I will see what the future holds," said the 32-year-old.

Instead, Martinez will be looking to add players to his squad ahead of their Europa League campaign, but reports suggest that he will have to up his bid in order to sign Valencia's Argentine midfielder Ever Banega. It's believed that Everton's initial £6m offer was rejected, and the pursuit of the former Boca Juniors man my hint that they are struggling to land loan star Gareth Barry on a permanent deal.

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