For two teams in need of defensive reinforcements, there will be some battle to face over any identified players of choice in positions of interest and in the race for Everton’s midfield enforcer, James McCarthy, the jury stands with Arsenal as being ahead according to Daily Star.
The 24-year old Irish midfielder had a fabulous season under Roberto Martinez after making the move from Lancashire to join his erstwhile Wigan boss at Goodison Park, forming a solid partnership with Gareth Barry that was often difficult to surmount. His stock has continued to rise, but even with injuries limiting his involvement over the past first-half of the season, Wenger remains a fan and would reportedly be interested in launching a bid for him.
United have had some interest in the player too and could have reason to think they could be favoured. Everton owner, Bill Kenwright spent half of the £27m received from them for Fellaini in buying McCarthy from Wigan on the summer transfer deadline day last season and that could be argued as a soft landing for a successful negotiation for the defensive midfielder. However, it is doubtful that van Gaal has given up the chase of the other bigger names mentioned as being on their list, vis-à-vis Kevin Strootman, while the return of some of their injured midfielders would also create an apparent surplus.
For Wenger though, he is as much in need of quantity to strengthen the squad in depth, but more in need of a top quality defensive midfield player. Arteta and Flamini are not exactly getting younger, a fact continuously given weight by their constant injuries. Francis Coquelin’s last two games have introduced some argument about him being a better option than both, with some impressive tackles and more verve visible in his play. But his relative inexperience and some other issues regarding his all round play still make the demand on Wenger to scour to market for a truly proven midfielder that will give our ailing back-four the cover it needs.
In McCarthy’s absence, Everton have suffered defensively, having lost 5 of their last 6 games, and it would be doubtful that Martinez would let him go this January. The Spaniard, who has been tipped as one of Wenger’s potential successors, is now under pressure to turn the tide at the Goodison and he will be looking to keep McCarthy as one of those to help him out of their current fix.
However, it could still be a decision made at the top and if Wenger chooses to match the fee paid for him, the Everton bosses may feel the need to play ball and cash in.
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