James Beattie will become Everton's record signing today when he arrives on Merseyside for a medical to complete his £6m move from Southampton.
The fee for the 26-year-old England striker beats the £5.75m Everton paid for Nick Barmby in October 1996 and was ratified late yesterday after Beattie told Aston Villa that he had chosen Everton ahead of them.
The Aston Villa chairman, Doug Ellis, saw the Southampton forward yesterday in a last-minute attempt to persuade him to change his mind. However, it is understood that Beattie had already made his decision on Saturday and only agreed to see Villa as a matter of courtesy.
The Southampton manager, Harry Redknapp, has resolved to raise funds to reinforce his relegation-threatened side and Beattie's sale will allow him some room to manoeuvre in the January transfer window. Redknapp has already taken Alex Nyarko and Abel Xavier, who both had spells with Everton, on trial at St Mary's.
Blackburn Rovers, who sold Beattie to Southampton for £1m in 1998, are also set to earn a percentage of the fee. Beattie will command wages of around £30,000 a week which will make him one of Everton's biggest earners behind Duncan Ferguson and Kevin Campbell.
The rumours surrounding Thomas Gravesen's future at Goodison Park refuse to go away. Manchester United have made enquiries about the 28-year-old midfielder, who will be out of contract in the summer. There were also reports last night that the Dane has attracted the interest of Real Madrid.
The money to buy Beattie has been made available to David Moyes, the Everton manager, after the sale of Wayne Rooney to Manchester United on the very last day of the transfer window last summer. United paid Everton £10m then and will pay another instalment of £10m in July, followed by £3m when Rooney completes the first three years of his contract.
Everton are also anticipating an injection of money from the Fortress Sports Fund, an investment company headed by the Geneva financier Chris Samuelson, whose involvement in the club's finances has taken around six months to negotiate. The Brunei-based fund is expected to invest £12.8m for a return of 29.9 per cent of the club.
The deadline for the fund's exclusive rights to invest in Everton passed before Christmas, but the club are still confident that the money will be transferred in time for Moyes to spend some this month. With Everton fourth in the table and five points clear of Middlesbrough in fifth place but having suffered two consecutive defeats in the Premiership, the Scot desperately needs reinforcements to continue the challenge for a Champions' League place.
Even without the Fortress money, Moyes is understood to have close to £10m to spend in the transfer window and is in the market for a central midfield player as well.