EVERTON are in a strong position to make Steven Naismith their first summer signing – although nine other clubs are chasing the Scotland forward.
Naismith, 25, could be ready to decide on his future early next week, as he mulls over offers from seven English clubs and two European sides.
The ECHO understands that the Toffees are one of the main contenders for Naismith’s signature, even though they may not be able to match the financial incentives of their rivals.
It seems likely that Ibrox hero Naismith will be a free agent, despite the objection of Charles Green – who owns the new Rangers company and has threatened both the player and his suitors with legal action.
That means the former Kilmarnock forward will be able to command a handsome signing-on fee, although he is also thought to prioritise making the right footballing choice for his career.
Naismith would be able to link-up with his former Rangers strike partner Nikica Jelavic at Goodison, along with another former team-mate David Weir – who is currently a coach at Finch Farm.
Naismith and Scotland defender Steven Whittaker last week held a news conference to announce that they do not wish to transfer their contracts from the old Rangers.
The forward said then that there was too much uncertainty about which division the club would be playing in next season and that his loyalty was to the old Rangers and not the Sevco consortium.
It now seems certain that the new Rangers will not be admitted into the Scottish Premier League and will play in Division One next season.
Naismith has made 141 appearances for Rangers, scoring 33 goals, but missed most of last season after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in October.
Meanwhile, Jack Rodwell is set to miss out on selection for the London 2012 Olympics Great Britain team.
The Everton midfielder was chosen to unveil the GB strip earlier this year but will be left on the sidelines this summer, after he suffered a series of hamstring injuries last season that cost him a place at Euro 2012.
Rodwell had been hoping to appear at the Olympics despite his injuries but was advised by his club manager, David Moyes, to use the summer break to recuperate instead, and it looks likely that the Scot will get his wish when Stuart Pearce’s squad is announced.