Everton face a battle to convince Marcelo Bielsa to replace Frank Lampard after the Argentine expressed reservations about moving to Goodison Park.
Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri’s succession plan has hit an immediate roadblock, with Bielsa unsure if it is the right move for his career.
Moshiri made Bielsa his top target and is keen to convince the 67-year-old that he can save Everton from relegation.
But there was never any guarantee that Bielsa would be lured to Merseyside, especially after examining the quality of Everton’s squad. The former Leeds United boss must be confident he wants the players to impose his unique style, or the resources to recruit those capable of playing his all-energy football.
Everton’s financial predicament is such that no such guarantees can be offered to any candidates.
Bielsa is known to be meticulous in his investigation of clubs who approach him. He will have watched the latest Everton games and made preliminary assessments of the players at his disposal. Should he turn down Everton, it would indicate that he does not believe the team is capable of meeting his demands. It will also be a reflection of Everton being handcuffed in the transfer market as each and every deal has to be ratified by the financial fair play regulators.
If Bielsa rejects Moshiri’s overtures, Moshiri will have to work through alternatives.
West Bromwich Albion manager Carlos Corberán and former Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl also have admirers on the Goodison board as Moshiri looks set to move quickly to ensure a replacement is in place before the next Premier League game at home to Premier League leaders Arsenal on February 4.
History suggests that the recruitment process will not be smooth sailing. Moshiri has overseen a number of ill-fated transitions during his tenure, different coaches with vastly different philosophies of the game being considered or appointed.
Last year Moshiri was on the verge of appointing Vitor Pereira but was forced to change his mind after Everton fans expressed their unhappiness and preference for Frank Lampard.
Before then, he was close to agreeing a deal for Nuno Espirito Santo, only to be convinced to appoint Rafa Benítez after interviewing the ex-Liverpool manager.
And 18 months earlier, David Moyes was in advanced talks only to be overlooked for Carlo Ancelotti.
There will be concerns that Everton’s leadership hunt will once again become a circus if Bielsa says no.