EVERTON were reeling today after the shock departure of Mikel Arteta to Arsenal in a last-ditch £10m deal that left David Moyes powerless to replace him.
The 29-year-old playmaker told Moyes he wanted a switch to North London late last night, after the Blues had already rejected an approach from Arsene Wenger for the fans’ favourite earlier on deadline day.
A dismayed Moyes, who had previously signed Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe and Argentine striker Denis Stracqualursi in a whirl-wind day of activity, said: “Mikel indictated to me that he wished to join Arsenal if a bid came in.
“I’m very disappointed to lose him but the prospect of Champions League football was something I wasn’t able to offer him.”
Arteta’s departure was an unexpected set-back to the Blues. The Basque had said earlier this summer that he was settled at Goodison and wanted the club to retain their best players, but the lure of Champions League football quickly convinced him to take a significant pay-cut to move to the Emirates stadium.
The ECHO understands Moyes believed he had done enough to cling onto the Basque, after he had helped reduce the financial pressures on the club via the sales of Yakubu, who joined Blackburn Rovers for a deal close to £2m, and striker Beckford to Leicester City for almost £4m.
The Everton manager was relieved with what seemed set to be a simple ‘two in, two out’ day of business. But then Arteta, who joined Everton from Real Sociedad in 2005, delivered his bombshell news, leaving the Scot reluctant to retain a player who did not want to play for the club.
It means the Toffees had no time to re-invest some of the £10m fee on a replacement, or even take advantage of the potential funds freed-up by removing his £75,000-a-week salary from the wage bill.
There was believed to be huge anger behind the scenes at the timing of Arteta’s admission last night.
Although Moyes at least managed to capture some re-inforcements in highly-rated Stracqualursi, 23, and 24-year-old Drenthe – who he will hope to team-up with Leighton Baines on Everton’s left flank.
Meanwhile, Yakubu, who signed for Everton in an £11.25m deal in 2007, said he was thrilled to be joining Blackburn.
He said: “It’s a good club and I’m looking forward to playing and helping the club stay in the Premier League.
“He is a great manager and without him I don’t think I’d be here today so its credit to him.”
Republic of Ireland U-21 defender Shane Duffy was also allowed to leave joining League One outfit Scunthorpe on an initial one-month loan.