Everton are in discussions to buy the Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker for a fee of around £6m. The 24-year-old is understood to be tempted by the move after having grown frustrated by the lack of opportunities at Stamford Bridge.
Parker has been top of the wanted list drawn up by David Moyes for some time, but the Everton manager knew he had little chance of attracting the England player until the club had secured fourth place in the Premiership and Champions' League football.
Ironically Parker - it is believed - had hoped that he would be used in a makeweight as part of Chelsea's attempts to sign Steven Gerrard but that deal is all but dead with Liverpool having reached the Champions' League final. Gerrard will stay for at least another season and has already suggested he is willing to discuss a new contract at Anfield.
Chelsea have told Parker, who joined in January 2004 for £10m from Charlton Athletic, that he has a future at the club and he has impressed the manager, Jose Mourinho, with his attitude. But a broken bone in his foot has hampered his progress and even when fit Parker realises he is unlikely to dislodge Claude Makelele and has found himself behind Alexei Smertin and Tiago Mendes in the pecking order. Mourinho has said he will not try and retain an unhappy player but would, at present, rather see Geremi move on than Parker.
Chelsea do not believe the player will go to Goodison, although they admit Everton are making a bid. It is also believed Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, Birmingham City and possibly Newcastle United are interested in Parker.
Parker has considered going out on loan -although Chelsea do not approve of this option - and is also concerned that a lack of appearances may prevent him from making the England squad for next summer's World Cup.
It is understood that he is prepared to take a pay cut, if necessary, to secure first-team football at the right club although wages, having trebled his salary in joining Chelsea, may still end up being a issue.
Nevertheless it could be that Moyes has timed his interest perfectly especially as he has already shown his, and Everton's ambition, by securing Simon Davies from Tottenham for £3.5m. Moyes is likely to add further recruits and may move for another Spurs player, Sean Davis, if his attempts to sign Parker fail, while he has a long-standing interest in Robbie Keane.
Chelsea expect to complete the signing of the Spain left-back Asier del Horno from Athletic Bilbao later this week. An initial fee of around £10m has been agreed for the 24-year-old with further payments of up to another £2m dependent on appearances. A delegation from Chelsea watched Del Horno play in his club's final league game of the season on Sunday.
* Sven-Goran Eriksson has confirmed that the captain, David Beckham, will be unavailable for England's opening game of their tour of the United States against the host nation in Chicago on Saturday.