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Everton set to sign Aston Villa midfield target

Everton look set to sign a long-term deal with midfielder Tom Cleverley.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Midfielder Tom Cleverley looks set to sign a long-term deal with Everton. If the report from the Birmingham Mail is true, and I see no reason not to believe it, that puts an end to the possibility of Aston Villa getting a starting midfielder who had revived his career for free.

Cleverley spent the year at Aston Villa on loan after his career at Manchester United had become moribund. In January, Paul Lambert had the option to make the loan permanent for a rumoured £7 million. At the time he wasn't worth that. Under Lambert, the best that could be said for Cleverley was "well, he doesn't actively hurt the team." But when Tim Sherwood took over, his attacking style seemed revived Cleverley. Before the limping three-match end to the season, Cleverley was a key part of a midfield trio that also included Fabian Delph and Jack Grealish. There was even talk of Clevs having been snubbed by not being called up for the upcoming England matches.

And whether or not you really rate Cleverley all that highly, with his contract up at United he would have been a steal as a free transfer. Getting a starting midfielder for free is never a bad thing. In the worst case scenario, he would have ended up as depth.

This isn't the end of the world for Aston Villa by any stretch of the imagination. Signing Tom Cleverley will not make or break a team. But it does make life more difficult on Tim Sherwood. Now he not only has to replace a midfield starter, but he also likely has to do that by paying. That's less money that he can spend elsewhere, and that might be the big news out of this.