This January is likely to be a pivotal month at Everton that could ultimately prove crucial in shaping the long-term future of the club.
Not only could the Toffees do with a batch of reinforcements to revive their quest for the top four, but the success of this transfer window may have a considerable bearing on whether or not David Moyes decides to extend his current contract at the club.
Moyes released quotes a few days ago highlighting how he doesn't intend to discuss his future until after January, presumably wanting to see what business he's permitted to conduct first.
If the usual financial restraints hold him back, there's a genuine possibility he may not choose to extend his stay with the Toffees. A scenario that would be nothing short of disastrous.
In short, Moyes wants Everton's hierarchy to release funds and keep hold of his key personnel before he himself commits to the club.
All that considered, here's a look at the latest rumours surrounding the Toffees as this crunch period draws ever closer.
This rumour has caught fire in a matter of days.
Just last week, Moyes was attributed an interest in Vegard Forren, a central defender currently playing for Molde FK, in Norway.
A few days later, Moyes and some of his coaching entourage were then pictured scouting the Norwegian international during a Europa League tie, leading to several quotes flying around about a potential move being imminent.
Some media outlets have even gone as far as claiming he's on his way to Merseyside to undergo a medical and begin contractual talks before officially signing for the Toffees in January.
Rumoured to be available for around £2.5 million, Forren seems a bargain at such a low fee and offers Everton everything they currently lack in defence—particularly regarding aerial prowess.
Certainly a rumour to keep track of this summer. For a full scouting report on Forren, click here.
Of course, for Everton to back Moyes this winter, they are going to have to find a way of raising funds for incoming deals.
With sudden investment an unlikely prospect, the club may choose to follow similar methods as last year, when Louis Saha and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov were moved on to bring in Nikica Jelavic, Darron Gibson, Steven Pienaar and Landon Donovan.
The Dutchman polarises opinion at Everton. Player of the Year last season, he has been unconvincing this campaign, too often appearing overly relaxed and sloppy on the pitch.
Whilst some supporters idolise him, a certain section of Evertonians have never been convinced of his commitment to the club due to his irritating habit of linking himself with moves away.
Heitinga's own deal is rapidly expiring, so whether the Ajax rumour is accurate or not, if Everton don't feel he's likely to extend his stay, he may well be ushered towards the door in the near future.
Everton's current reserve goalkeeper is Jan Mucha, who has never been vaguely close to competing with Tim Howard for the starting gloves and is out of contract next summer.
Having once cost Sunderland £9 million, a move for Gordon could prove a smart piece of business for the Toffees, and at 29, the free agent is still at a decent age in terms of goalkeeping years.
Everton supposedly courted Jack Butland last August, and if a move for Gordon does not transpire, many fans would be keen for the club to revisit that deal.
Howard has been usually under-par for much of this season, and it's about time the American had some tougher competition.
Another way for Everton to bring in funds would of course be to sacrifice one of their prize assets, namely Leighton Baines or Marouane Fellaini.
Both have been, and will continue to be, extensively linked away, almost on a daily basis, as they have been throughout the summer and for much of the past few years.
Baines is currently fetching more headlines at the moment, with Manchester United supposedly on the trail keen on offering anything between £8 million to 15 million for the England international, depending on what you read.
However, unless an unbelievable offer came in above the £20 million mark for Baines, it's highly unlikely Everton's board would condone the sale of a star player—especially in a transfer window where they are trying to convince their manager to stay on.
That being said, as January nears, Evertonians should expect the same infuriating bombardment of repetitive headlines continually linking Baines and Fellaini elsewhere.
Finally, possibly the most pressing need on Everton's current roster is in central midfield, with Jack Rodwell's summer departure still not sufficiently covered.
Injuries to Phil Neville and Darron Gibson have left the Toffees especially stretched in this department, and if permitted, Moyes will surely look to bolster this area in a few weeks time.
As most Evertonians are aware, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe came within minutes of joining the Toffees in August, and over the previous few months, there have been countless articles claiming Everton will once again try and land their man.
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