EVERTON boss David Moyes is increasingly hopeful of persuading influential midfielder Marouane Fellaini to sign a lucrative new deal this summer.
Moyes is determined to keep the 23-year-old Belgian at Goodison, and wants to prioritise securing his signature quickly, in order to deter a host of other circling clubs.
Fellaini went on record last month to insist he is happy on Merseyside, and was looking forward to beginning negotiations with the Toffees. And the Everton hierarchy are quietly confident of tying the cult hero down to a new multi-million-pound deal that would make him one of the club’s highest earners.
“Talks are under way, things are happening,” said Moyes. “His rehab is going OK and we are targeting him being back for pre-season.”
Fellaini, who Moyes has repeatedly praised for working hard to recover from injury, had hoped to return from an ankle problem before the current season ends.
But the 6ft 4in midfielder is now focusing on being fit to take part in Everton’s full pre-season preparations, including their US tour in July.
Meanwhile, skipper Phil Neville is targeting a possible late surge to finish above Tottenham in the league.
The Toffees captain, who rejected a January move to White Hart Lane, has urged his team-mates to capitalise on Spurs’ collapse and overtake them in the table.
Harry Redknapp’s men have endured a terrible run of just one win in their last 13 matches and, after losing their fourth place Champions League qualifier position to Manchester City, could now slip as low as seventh.
Writing on his Twitter account, Neville said: ‘Two games left, win both and we will finish ahead of Spurs – that’s our motivation.”
Everton would need three points against West Brom today to retain any hopes of sixth place, but Baggies boss Roy Hodgson is determined to maintain his side’s progress.
The former Liverpool boss is hoping to guide Albion to a top ten place and said: “We’d have to beat Everton to give ourselves the chance. We are still on course and would like to be the top Midlands club this year.”