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By ESPN Staff

Goalkeeper Howard seals five-year deal with Everton

Everton have clinched the signing of goalkeeper Tim Howard on a five-year contract from Manchester United for a fee believed to be in the region of £3million.

Howard joined the Merseysiders on loan from the beginning of the season, with his long-term future at Old Trafford very much in doubt.

But his form at Goodison Park even prompted United boss Sir Alex Ferguson to discuss bringing the USA international back to the club when his loan ended.

However, United have new England international Ben Foster and Polish youngster Tomasz Kuszczak as back-up to Edwin van der Sar, and Howard's future at Old Trafford was clearly limited.

Howard's new deal will start from the beginning of next season and run until 2012, with the current loan continuing for the rest of the campaign.

Manchester United paid £2.3million for the 27-year-old from New York/New Jersey Metrostars in July 2003, and he played 77 games for them before moving to Goodison last summer.

The permanent arrival of Howard also suggests that Richard Wright, the current number two, will be released in the summer. Everton have two highly-promising youngsters as back-up in Iain Turner and John Ruddy.

Howard has made 27 appearances for the Toffees, keeping an impressive 11 clean sheets.

Howard told evertonTV: 'The club share my ambition, that is for sure, the manager does and so do the fans.

'I was drawn to the club for a number of reasons and the players in the dressing room are one of them.'

Although the transfer window is currently shut, Premier League rules permit domestic loan deals to be made permanent outside the window.

By moving now for the goalkeeper, Everton have ensured one of the Premiership's most consistent performers will remain at Goodison for the peak years of his career.

Everton boss David Moyes said: 'We are delighted to have signed Tim on a permanent basis. He has come in this season and proved he is a good keeper and we are pleased to have secured him.'

Howard has earned 16 international caps for the USA, with the most recent in the 2-0 win over Mexico last week.