Johnny Heitinga has been a faithful servant of Everton Football Club for the last four years.
But after struggling to appear in only two contests this year, both in the League Cup, the writing is on the wall for the Dutch international – leave the club or face not being selected for Brazil 2014.
With the January transfer market open most figured Heitinga, who was Everton’s Player of the Year in 2012, would snatch at the first decent offer he received.
Cue the interest of West Ham United, who recently suffered a rash of injuries to center-backs with Winston Reid, James Collins and James Tomkins all out for extended periods.
It’s a situation that feels tailor-made for Heitinga – go to another big name Premier League club, regain your form, prove yourself and with some luck earn a place on the Holland World Cup team. (By the way, I know what you’re thinking and the answer is ‘yes’ — the Netherlands’ defense actually is so poor that Heitinga could make the squad).
But with the stars aligning in his favor Heitinga has turned down the move to East London saying he felt it was not the right step for his career. Instead, the 30-year-old is confident he will find another new club in this month’s transfer window.
“It is important at my age to make the right choices. It is not about money because that was not the problem with a move to West Ham,” he said on the website of his agents Sport Promotion.
“You have to be convinced that you are taking the right step and I was not, that’s why I turned down West Ham and am waiting for interest from other clubs. I’m confident I will find another club before January 31 when the window closes.”
The website notes that Everton told Heitinga he was free to leave and the club had agreed a deal with West Ham.
So what went wrong here?
It seems Heitinga may have just big-timed West Ham for Newcastle, who recently came in line for a new center-back following the MCL knee ligament injury Fabricio Coloccini suffered on Wednesday.
“I want to play every game because I still have a great hunger for the game,” said Heitinga. “I am fit and in the shape of my life.”