David Moyes insists Nikica Jelavic remains part of Everton’s plans.
The Croatian international made an instant impact at Goodison Park when he arrived from Rangers in January 2012, scoring nine goals in just 13 Premier League appearances. It has been a different story in his first full season in England, though, as despite playing 33 times, he has contributed only seven goals to the cause.
Moyes admits Jelavic, who he paid £5million to sign, has struggled from second-season syndrome this term. However, suggestions that the 27-year-old could be offloaded when the transfer window reopens have been shot down by the Scot.
“His effort has never been in question and we’d want him here next year,” said Moyes, who welcomes Fulham on Saturday. “It’s been a difficult season – maybe a bit of second-season syndrome. He’s found it a little harder to get the goals and the opportunities.”
The fact that Moyes has stated he wants to keep Jelavic on Merseyside next season perhaps gives an indication that he too intends to stick around. The former Preston North End boss, who has been at Everton since March 2002, is out of contract in the summer, and has said he will only consider his future at the end of the campaign.
The 50-year-old is eager to test his talent on the European stage on a regular basis, and the Toffees look certain to fall short of a UEFA Champions League spot once more this season. At present they are in sixth position and six points adrift of Chelsea, who also have a game in hand. The defeat at Sunderland last week was a source of huge frustration for Moyes, who admitted his ambition for of a top-four finish had all but died at the Stadium of Light.
“I don’t think we can qualify now,” he said. “We had to keep winning and keep on going, and even if we did keep on winning we would still have been outsiders. This defeat means we have to put an end to all that. We will try and finish in a UEFA Europa League position.”