Everton FC News: PHIL JAGIELKA insists holding on to their star names is more important than Everton splashing the cash in the transfer market this summer.
The Goodison defender believes the club’s current nine-game unbeaten run highlights the strength of David Moyes’ squad.
It’s unlikely to be enough for Everton to force their way into the European places but Jagielka is excited about what the club could achieve next season if they can keep the current crop together.
However, the 27-year-old expects Everton to have to bat off plenty of unwelcome attention from rival clubs once the transfer window opens.
“The challenge this summer is to keep everyone together,” he said.
“It’s only natural when your good players play well that clubs with big cheque books will come calling.
“When that happens and bids are put in it’s a massive pat on the back for those players.
“What you don’t want is for that pat on the back to turn into anyone waving goodbye to the place. It’s going to be hard but we don’t want to lose key players.
“The good thing is the club is stable enough not to have to accept just any old bid.
“But by the same token everyone has their price.”
One player who has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park this summer is Steven Pienaar.
The South African international has enjoyed a fine season and only has a year to run on his current contract.
Moyes is confident Pienaar, who joined Everton from Borussia Dortmund for £2m in 2007, will pen a new deal and Jagielka believes the midfielder will commit his future to the club.
“It’s massively important we keep hold of Steven,” Jagielka added.
“I think Steven loves playing for Everton and it’s certainly not a case of him being desperate to go.
“He’s only got one year left on his contract so there’s bound to be interest from elsewhere.
“He just needs to know where the club are going and how they see him being part of that.
“I’m sure everything will be cleared up and I don’t think there will be a problem.
“Hopefully we can get him signed up for as long as possible because he’s a quality player.”
Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta has set his sights on forcing his way into Spain’s World Cup squad.
The Everton midfielder, whose late penalty secured a 2-1 victory over Fulham on Sunday, has been in great form since he returned to action from a long term knee injury.
Arteta knows Spain have a vast array of midfield talent but he is refusing to give up hope of securing a place on the plane to South Africa.
“I’m thinking positively that I can maybe get a call-up – you never know,” Arteta said.
“But it’s not going to be easy as we’ve got some terrific players in the middle of the park.
“I just need to wait and see what happens in May.”
Arteta, who has netted six goals in 11 starts since his return from injury, believes playing club football outside Spain has damaged his hopes of representing his country.
“Some of the players in competition are at big clubs and winning trophies. Playing in Spain is different,” he added.
“But I’ve been working hard and I’ve been spending a lot of time in training to improve all the areas of my game and hopefully you can see that on the pitch as well.”