David Moyes resigned to losing Marouane Fellaini if Everton fail to finish in top four

Manager accepts key men will always leave if he cannot win trophies or reach European Cup

Marouane Fellaini has said his piece with regards to his ambitions outside Goodison Park. But, should he want to leave Everton, then David Moyes will refuse to fight to the end to keep him.

With one irresistible shot and then a little back-flick, he had just turned Saturday's game against Sunderland that seemed lost with what Moyes called "his feather feet". However, the Everton manager was circumspect about the prospect of losing him.

Fellaini told the Belgian media last week that "I have seen everything at Everton and in January or at the end of the season I will turn to a new club or a new league." Chelsea head a list of suitors who may be prepared to double the £15m fee Everton paid Standard Liège in 2008.

But it is eight years since Wayne Rooney kicked his last football at Goodison Park and the club not only survived, they qualified for the Champions League the following season. There is, said Moyes, a greater sense of perspective about Everton now.

"I am not in the mood now to keep the fight going all the time because we have had to do this with a lot of players," said Moyes. "But Felli knows what I think and I think that more than anything he'd love to take Everton into the Champions League. But I think I have got to that stage at Everton where I say: 'Look, we have lost some really good players but I don't think it has stopped us progressing as a team.'

"In fact, people might say that Everton have lost good players but they have improved. We sold Joleon Lescott, we sold Mikel Arteta and, though we have felt really down when we lost those players, we have had to pick ourselves up and find others. The club will always be bigger than any player or manager and the players we have brought in are showing that."

What makes Fellaini so attractive is his physical presence, which undid Manchester United in the opening game of the season, but also his versatility. Moyes described him as "an old-fashioned No 8 who likes to get into the box". Against Sunderland on Saturday, he supported the lone striker, Nikica Jelavic, but he can equally fulfil the "Patrick Vieira role", patrolling in front of the back four.

"If you asked me where I think he will develop by the time he is 28 or 29, I'd say he might end up dropping back," said Moyes. "But because he is a threat, can take the ball on his chest and be used direct, he becomes someone who can be used in a lot of ways. He has got size but he has also got feather feet and great ball control.

"I was dead against him going and I am still dead against it. Don't think I am saying that people can come in and take my players but I have to realise that if I have top players and I can't give them trophies, cup finals or European football, I might have to accept what they are thinking."

And yet with Arsenal seizing up and Tottenham hobbled by inconsistencies, the great prize of the Champions League might be closer than Fellaini thinks. Since the competition opened up to clubs that had not actually won their own championship, it has taken an average of 65 points or 1.71 per game to qualify. On 1.82, Everton are ahead of schedule.

Star spotting: Four more beyond big boys

Breda Hangeland

The big Norwegian defender has been through storms of transfer speculation in his time and has come out the other end remaining a Fulham player. Past interest from Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United has been deserved.

Leighton Baines

The England left-back has progressed every year since joining Everton from Wigan in 2007, again gaining interest from a host of top clubs. His speedy, clinical endeavour, along with his professional character, makes him one of the best full-backs in the league.

Youssouf Mulumbu

Signed from PSG in 2009 for only £175,000, Mulumbu has been the linchpin to Steve Clarke's successful campaign so far. The powerful, tireless West Bromwich midfielder has gained interest from Spurs and Liverpool in the past.

Ryan Shawcross

Rumoured to be on Manchester United's radar while his club try to pin him down in contract talks, Shawcross has proved himself to be indispensable to Stoke for five years. The 25-year-old ex-United trainee has yet to earn an England cap, however.

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