Everton beat Europe deadline to sign Neville

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The 28-year-old, often regarded as on the periphery at Old Trafford despite over 300 starts in a success-laden decade for Manchester United, signed a five-year deal with the Goodison Park club and will earn around £28,000-a-week. That sum matches what Neville received at United and, crucially for Moyes and Everton, he can join his former club in preparation for next week's Champions' League qualifiers, having signed before the deadline for the third and final round closed at midnight last night.

Though he has spent £10.7m this summer on Per Kroldrup, Simon Davies and Mikel Arteta, Moyes was under pressure to bring more European experience into Everton ahead of a testing Champions' League qualifying tie with Villarreal next Tuesday. Having been frustrated in several transfer moves this summer _ many of whom, such as Scott Parker and Emre, always appeared unrealistic because of their wages demands - it appears common sense rather than panic buying prevailed at Everton on deadline day.

Neville may not be the star name many followers of his new club were hoping for when Moyes promised six new signings at the end of last season but his versatility and experience should prove valuable commodities as Everton venture into Europe for the first time in 10 years.

With Lee Carsley out for two months with a knee injury, Neville has been ear-marked for the central midfield holding role in which he flourished so often for United, particularly in the absence of Roy Keane and Nicky Butt two season's ago. He will also provide much-needed competition for the full-back positions at Everton, where Tony Hibbert and the re-signed Alessandro Pistone were unthreatened last season.

"I felt we needed to add a bit more experience to our squad and Phil will do that," said Moyes, who is still chasing a new striker with United's Louis Saha on his list. "He has a terrific attitude, a great pedigree. He is a winner and his versatility will be hugely important for us.

"There was a lot of competition for his signature, but as soon as we spoke he said he thought Everton was the right club for him.

"I took that as a compliment and I must say he and his family have been brilliant to deal with. He is very much a professional's professional and I am very happy to have signed him."

Neville has won 52 England caps, six League titles, three FA Cups, a European Cup and a World Club Cup since turning professional with United in June 1994 and though he signed a new five-year contract at Old Trafford last summer, the prospect of another season without a consistent run in the side encouraged him to leave.

"I spoke to Alex Ferguson and it was made clear that I wasn't going to get enough football next season," he admitted last night. "I was frustrated last season. He knew that and we came to an agreement that it would be best if he gave me permission to talk to other clubs. David Moyes was the first manager to contact my father and from day one this was the move that interested me most."

His departure further diminishes the influence of the close-knit unit that emerged through the ranks at Old Trafford in the mid-1990s, with his older brother, Gary, and Paul Scholes now the only remaining members of the revered youth team that helped sustain United's success both at home and abroad.

Neville's new midfield partner at Goodison Park is also expected to commit himself to a new five-year contract. Everton's decision to reward Tim Cahill for an outstanding debut season backfired a fortnight ago when he rejected an offer to increase his salary from £17,000 to £23,000-a-week.

Negotiations have since resumed with the 26-year-old, who still has three years remaining on the contract he signed following a £1.8m transfer from Millwall 12 months ago, and the club are confident he will pen a new five-year deal worth £27,000-a-week before the start of the new campaign.

Everton's chief executive, Keith Wyness, confirmed: "Further talks have taken place between the club and Tim's representatives. These talks will continue and we remain very optimistic about the outcome."

Everton also hope that Carsley, a former Republic of Ireland international, will extend a contract that currently has only one year remaining, and expect the 17-year-old striker James Vaughan to follow suit with a new three-year deal. Everton are also set to make a £750,000 offer for the Preston midfielder Dickson Etuhu, who Moyes worked with at Deepdale.

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