Everton manager Roberto Martinez has confirmed to The Guardian that striker Nikica Jelavic has drawn interest from a number of destinations, including recently relegated Queens Park Rangers.
The Croatian striker has been inconsistent at best this year, mostly due to his spotty minutes.
He’s started just five matches all year, making nine total appearances, and has yet to find the back of the net. He hasn’t played a full 90 yet and since September 21 he’s featured just four times – all substitute showings.
“They have asked but there is nothing concrete,” Martínez said. “We have had a few clubs ask about Nikica and Johnny Heitinga because I made it public. Teams have been really interested in two players of their experience and want to find out about the situation.”
Martinez also confirmed that they will not loan Jelavic out, as he will leave strictly on a permanent transfer.
However, despite the obvious availability to other clubs, the first requirement is to find a replacement, something made a necessity thanks to an injury to Arouna Kone.
“That would be the case with Arouna injured,” he said. “Niki will never go out on loan because it would leave us totally open and we cannot replace him in that respect. He’s a big asset and, if we are allowing him to move, it’s out of respect to his career and what he has done for us.
Martinez continued to acknowledge that while he wishes to present his player with the opportunity to move for moinutes, the health of the club must be the first priority.
“He needs to play to go to the World Cup and I accept that but it has to be the right terms for the club. I wouldn’t let the squad be weakened just to satisfy an individual.”
With Kone out, it leaves Everton incredibly vulnerable at the striker position, as an injury to Lukaku is all that remains between Jelavic and a forced starting spot. Lukaku is on fire for the Toffees, but one minute could change all that should the big loanee succumb to some bad luck.