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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 8, 2007

Boro issue Everton 'hands off Yakubu' warning

Everton will have to look elsewhere for a big name striker after Middlesbrough halted their interest in Ayegbeni Yakubu.

Sources at Goodison Park confirm that the club have made an enquiry about the 26-year-old Nigerian striker but insist no formal bid was made for the player, who is valued at more than £11million.

But Middlesbrough have made it clear that the player is not for sale and Everton are now very unlikely to continue their interest.

Yakubu is believed to have had showdown talks with Boro' boss Gareth Southgate today, and expressed his uncertainty about his future at the Riverside.

But with the Premier League season just two days away, Boro made it very clear to their much-wanted hitman, that he is not for sale.

Several clubs have tracked Yakubu this summer, including Manchester City, West Ham and Portsmouth.

Now Everton have become involved, but the answer to all enquires has been the same - no deal.

Everton still hold out hope that they can produce a deal for Benfica's midfielder Manuel Fernandes, but they would be sure to make certain that the third party involvement with the player was not a problem of the kind West Ham found themselves in over Carlos Tevez.

Everton are still chasing the player, who spent the second part of last season on loan with the Merseysiders.

But although Benfica only own 50% of the international, Everton - if they could negotiate a deal - would want to buy the player outright with no strings of the kind MSI had with West Ham.

The sticking point is the price. Everton would consider £8million, but Benfica have stated that they want £12million.

Manchester City are still interested, but such a fee is beyond what Everton would want to pay.

But with Everton boss David Moyes having failed to prise Argentina international Luis Gonzalez from Porto, he is trying again to come to a satisfactory agreement.

However, a Benfica spokesman told Sky's website they do not want to lose the talented international.

The spokesman said: 'The player has a deal with us and it does not enter our plans to see him exit this summer.'

Although Fernandes made a big impact on Everton fans last season, the player has also suggested he would be happy to stay in Lisbon, even though Manchester City are also interested.

Fernandes said: 'I am happy at Benfica and now I am only thinking about a good season ahead.'

Moyes had a £10million bid for Gonzalez - another player who was only half-owned by his club - turned down by Porto, who ended debate about the midfielder's future by buying the other 50% of the player last night from his third party owners.

Everton will now expand their quest for a new striker, because Moyes clearly needs re-enforcement having sold James Beattie to Sheffield United for £4million and with youngster James Vaughan out until November with a dislocated shoulder.

Everton are considering allowing Icelandic midfielder Bjarni Vidarsson to gain experience on loan.

The 19-year-old midfielder had a spell on loan with Bournemouth last season but has yet to appear in Moyes' first team.

There are several Coca-Cola Championship sides interested in the player, but he may be happier moving to Holland for a spell - where his brother Arnar plays.