Johnson deal 'shows Everton's intent'

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The Independent Football

Everton believe they have made a statement of intent about their future by buying the striker Andy Johnson as their new record signing.

Johnson has cost the Goodison Park club £8.6m, beating the previous high of £6m spent by manager David Moyes to bring James Beattie from Southampton in January 2005.

The Johnson fee and the fact that Everton expect to win the race to sign Chelsea's Germany international Robert Huth for £5.5m means they will shatter the Goodison Park summer transfer budget.

It also shows that Everton still see themselves as a big club and need to prove that to their supporters, who have seen a host of big names elude them in recent years.

For a while it looked as if Everton would lose out on Johnson as both Wigan and Bolton had bids accepted by Crystal Palace chairman Simon Johnson. But a Goodison Park source said: "We believed we would win the race for Johnson because we feel we are a bigger club than both Bolton and Wigan."

For some years the general feeling in the game has been that Everton were a faded giant with serious financial problems who were never likely to compete at the top again. Even their success in qualifying for the Champions' League last year failed to change that general assumption.

But with Moyes intent on challenging for the top four, Everton knew they needed to spend more than the £9m summer budget they had planned for.

In previous seasons they had tried to sign Michael Owen, Mikael Forssell, Dirk Kuyt, Milan Baros and Craig Bellamy and failed on each occasion.

But this time they have not pulled out of the bidding, the Everton source adding: "We have found the money from somewhere."

Everton confirmed that Johnson had successfully completed his medical at lunchtime, with chief executive Keith Wyness and club secretary Dave Harrison travelling to the England squad's hotel in Manchester for the striker to sign a four-year contract.

Johnson and Beattie - close friends off the pitch - will now form Everton's new strikeforce for next season. Johnson was given leave of absence from England's World Cup squad yesterday to have his medical with the Merseyside club, having agreed terms 24 hours earlier.

The deal has been completed with the agreement of the England management, who allowed Johnson to travel to Liverpool for the medical and then were happy for Everton's officials to drive to the Lowry Hotel in Manchester to complete the deal.

Johnson's contract will make him the club's highest-paid player on around £40,000 a week, more than doubling his Crystal Palace wages.