Everton January Transfer Possibilities Include Steven Ireland and Landon Donovan

Ron FurlongAnalyst IIDecember 17, 2010

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20:  Landon Donovan (R) of Everton is challenged by Darren Fletcher and Gary Neville of Manchester United during the Barclays Premiership match between Everton and Manchester Unitedat Goodison Park on February 20, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Everton manager David Moyes has no intention of remaining idle in the January transfer window.

First, he is likely to part ways with midfielder Steven Pienaar. The Blues have been unable to reach a contract extension with the South African, and thus, instead of losing him for nothing in the summer, they seem almost certain to shop him January.

In fact, the "for sale" sign is already up in the window. Some well-respected journalists in the know have more than suggested that Tottenham will be the next stop for Pienaar.

The good news in this for Everton is that the rumors have not only Pienaar going to the Spurs, but midfielder Niko Kranjcar moving to the Blues. The Coratian international Kranjcar has fallen out of favor with Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, and seems likely to be moved in January.

In addition to Kranjcar, Moyes is targeting unhappy Aston Villa midfielder Steven Ireland, who has had a miserable stay with Villa. It seems Everton may have to move quickly on getting Ireland, as Celtic has been rumored as the new front-funner.

And then, of course, there is the Landon Donovan invitation. Moyes has already extended his hand to the American, inviting him back for another winter loan. Donovan has recently said he is 50-50 on his decision, citing a desire to return to Everton but also a desire to give his body a rest, something the 28 year old has not done in some time.

His decision will have to come soon. Reports in England have recently mentioned both Fulham and Newcastle as possible landing spots for Donovan besides Everton. I wouldn't put any faith in the Newcastle rumor, and only slightly more in the Fulham possibility. If Donovan does come to the Premier League for a loan, it is almost certainly to be with the Blues.

It is unlikely the Blues will get all three midfielders, but two is not out of the question. I think Kranjcar is the most likely, then Donovan. If Donovan decides to turn the offer down, Moyes is likely to go after Ireland a little more vigorously.

One reason Moyes wants to add help to the midfield, in addition to the fact that Pienaar is likely out the door, is that Tim Cahill will be gone for the month of January, playing for Australia in the Asian Cup. The Australian will play for Everton on New Year's day versus Stoke City, then he is off for the month.

Everton, struggling on the wrong end of the table, can ill-afford to lose both these two world-class midfielders and not replace them with quality, especially if they plan on rising up the standings as they did a year ago.

This season has, unfortunately for Everton, mirrored last season. Both times the Blues got off to terrible starts. A year ago they were able to play great football from December on and climb all the way to the eighth spot. The question remains if they can do it again this year.

The Blues have a crucial, busy Christmas time schedule, including games with Manchester City (on Monday), Birmingham City, West Ham United and Stoke City.

Everton keeper Tim Howard told the Liverpool Echo recently that, despite the difficult schedule that begins with Man City, the Blues are optimistic.

"We are confident in this group," he said. "We have a lot of talent and a lot of quality and when we come up against teams with big names and talented players it just spurs us on that bit more."

Pienaar, by the way, whose days in Everton blue appear numbered, apparently will play Monday versus Manchester City, although he had earlier been ruled out. Pienaar was substituted last week against Wigan with a groin pull.

Safe to say that whatever unfolds in the next couple weeks, the Everton midfield will look a little different in the new year.