Tiago's reluctance to return to England threatens Everton deal

Jason Burt
Wednesday 20 August 2008 00:00
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Everton are close to reaching agreement with Juventus to sign the midfielder Tiago Mendes on a season-long loan – with a view to a permanent £8m transfer – but face a familiar problem regarding the Portuguese international. Despite playing for Chelsea for one season, where he was one of Jose Mourinho's first signings, Tiago is not keen on returning to England as Tottenham Hotspur found last January when they negotiated a similar deal to acquire the 27-year-old.

Tiago's wage demands were also prohibitive at that time for Spurs but the main stumbling block for Everton – who are desperate to bring in new players before the transfer window closes – is a reluctance of the midfielder to return to the Premier League.

Everton, who have still not given up hope of signing another Portuguese international, the Sporting Lisbon play-maker Joao Moutinho, have beaten off competition from Newcastle United to advance negotiations with Juventus. The Italians want to off-load Tiago, who has endured a miserable 12 months in Turin after signing from Lyons last year. Everton have agreed to pay €1m (£790,000) for the season-long loan and a further €9m next summer if the spell is successful.

Everton have endured a difficult summer in the transfer market with their problems made worse by injuries to key players such as Tim Cahill and Steven Pienaar. They lost their opening league fixture of the season, at home to Blackburn Rovers, with the resources of manager David Moyes severely stretched.

The Rennes midfielder Stéphane Mbia is desperate to complete a move to Everton now he has returned from the Olympic Games.

Now back in France following Cameroon's elimination from the Olympics at the quarter-final stage, the 22-year-old claims he is still in talks with the Merseysiders. "I haven't changed my mind, I want to join Everton," Mbia said in L'Equipe. "We are still in contact. I hope now that Rennes will accept to enter into negotiations with this English club. I don't want to let this chance go by."

Mbia, who can also fill in as a centre-half or right-back, has two years left on his contract at Rennes. He has come back from the Olympics with a knee injury and will undergo an MRI scan this week to determine the extent of the problem.

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