Roberto Martinez is set to be appointed as Everton’s new manager after Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan on Monday claimed he had agreed a compensation deal with the Premier League club.
Martinez was Everton’s top choice to succeed David Moyes at Goodison Park after leading the Latics to a shock FA Cup final victory over Manchester City.
The 39-year-old confirmed he wanted to leave Wigan following their relegation from the Premier League earlier this month and Whelan has granted his wish after negotiating compensation of about ￡1.5 million (US$2.3 million).
“Bill Kenwright [Everton chairman] and myself have agreed a deal,” Whelan told BBC Sport on Monday.
Martinez, who had snubbed approaches from Liverpool and Aston Villa over the past two years, is now expected to be confirmed as Everton boss later this week.
Martinez had already held talks with Everton with Whelan’s permission, but the compensation agreement means he is also free to discuss contract terms.
“He’d spoken to Everton because I gave them permission,” Whelan said. “When he came back he told me it had gone very well and he was probably in the last two or three on the list. Then the chairman rang me and discussed the compensation deal with me, and we agreed that this evening.”
Although the Spaniard failed to keep Wigan in the top flight this season, he is still regarded as one of the brightest young managers in England.
He had managed to keep Wigan competitive in the Premier League, despite their status as one of the division’s minnows, avoiding relegation three times before this season’s drop, while also playing attractive soccer and showing a keen eye for a bargain.
Those qualities appear to have persuaded Kenwright to choose Martinez ahead of other leading candidates such as Porto boss Vitor Pereira and Red Bull Salzburg general manager Ralf Rangnick.
Martinez, who joined Wigan from Swansea City in 2009, will be expected to build on the fine work of Moyes, whose impressive 11-year reign at Goodison convinced Manchester United to hire him as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor.
“After leaving Wigan, I think Everton is the next stop of Roberto before he goes to the very, very top,” Whelan said. “Everton is run very similarly to Wigan, it’s a family-run club, a friendly club with a great bunch of supporters. They’re a bigger club than Wigan and it’s a super club. If he goes I will wish him nothing but the very best of luck.”
Everton responded to Whelan’s comments by insisting that no deal had been sealed with Martinez.
“In response to regrettable and somewhat premature reports earlier this evening, Everton Football Club are continuing discussions with regards to the vacant managerial position,” a statement said. “Whilst positive moves are being made, the club will officially announce details as and only when they are agreed and completed.”
Meanwhile, Milton Keynes Dons boss Karl Robinson and Martinez’s Wigan assistant Graeme Jones have been linked with the soon-to-be-vacant manager’s job at the DW Stadium.
“We’ve got about 30 people who’ve applied for the job and I’ve not been able to interview one of them because of this agreement over the compensation, I didn’t want to jeopardize that,” Whelan said. “In football there are always some good managers without a position. We’ve had some very good people apply for the job. I’m sure there are half a dozen top-class managers amongst them.”