By Chris Myson
Everton have confirmed that talisman Tim Cahill is on the move to join New York Red Bulls this summer in a £1 million deal which will have surprised many.
In truth, though, the transfer does make sense after fans on Merseyside witnessed a sharp decline in his performances and impact over the previous 18 months.
Over Cahill’s last 52 games for the club, he scored just three times and had even gone a full 13 months without scoring a goal until he netted against Blackburn in January.
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|CAHILL'S EVERTON CAREER STATS
While his game is not all about scoring, his threat in front of goal is a key attribute and his struggles to find the net were representative of the lack of spark on show compared to what we had witnessed during the majority of his career.
With Cahill now 32, David Moyes can no longer build the team around a declining club icon and instead needs to be planning around the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Ross Barkley.
While the transfer fee received is not significant, the removal of Cahill from the wage bill will free up some vital funds that can be re-invested elsewhere – either on a new recruit or in the bid to secure fresh contracts for some of the club’s current stars.
But despite his fading powers and a justified sale now meaning a spell in MLS is looming, there can be no doubting the impressive legacy Cahill leaves behind in England.
Having played on these shores for 14 years, first for Millwall and then at Goodison Park since 2004, the signing of the Australian represents the best £1.5m that Moyes has ever spent.
Cahill was an inspirational figure both on and off the pitch and instantly became a firm favourite with the fans when he was voted Player of the Season in his debut campaign after reaching double figures in Premier League goals.
Able to play in central midfield, attacking midfield or even as a striker, his versatility was priceless in what was always a stretched squad due to the lack of resources at Moyes’ disposal. He is a player who never let his manager down.
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Despite being only 5'10", Cahill’s headed goals became an English football trademark, as he always demonstrated an excellent leap and ability to ghost into space inside the box.
Equally recognisable were his celebrations rushing to and boxing the corner flag, which Toffees fans will undoubtedly miss once the deal is officially finalised.
Cahill himself represented the club that he played for perfectly; while he was not flooded with natural talent, his determination and consistent performances meant that he always exceeded expectations.
He was a vital part of the Everton side which regularly secured top-six finishes and performed in European competition and also netted five times against Liverpool – always a good way to endear yourself to the Goodison Park faithful.
After 278 games, 68 goals and eight seasons at Everton, his contributions will always be looked upon favourably and will stand up to the test of time. The sale will be a sad moment for supporters who have admired him.
But, looking at the move free of emotion or sentiment, it is a decision that makes sense and Cahill can still leave with his head held high and a legacy at the club confirmed.