Pienaar Out; Diniyar In

By Chris Smith on Jan 28, 11 05:33 PM in Fans


Steven Pienaar has left for Spurs and the aftermath has begun already. Undoubtedly, the winger will be missed, not least for his fantastic partnership with the ever-impressive Leighton Baines. However, his departure need not be destructive, it is not as if Everton are void of options in this position. The best of which, in my opinion, is Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

The Russian arrived at Goodison Park 18 months ago with a hefty price tag around his neck. A reported £8.9m is, in Evertonian terms, a Fellaini-esque acquisition for the Blues. Despite featuring less prominently than the Belgian, Billy did however manage to match his teammate's debut season return with seven goals which - it is worth considering - is one more goal than Billy's compatriot, Andrei Arshavin's debut season with Arsenal, and in only three quarters the amount of games. Following this, the Russian had an effective pre-season. Notably, scoring two fantastic goals against both Norwich and Everton de Vina.

Is it not therefore absolutely necessary for Billy to be given the chance to develop in such a way? To become if not as integral as Fellaini, at least as impactful as Arshavin? In my opinion, Billy's debut season not only justifies more games but demands it, and Moyes is simply fooling himself by not facilitating it. Time and time again I have seen Billy being brought on post-85 minutes -if not being completely overlooked - and wondered whether there was something up, hoping we weren't dealing with another Van Der Meyde situation.

Steven Pienaar's consistent form and high productivity are of course crucial factors in Bilyaletdinov's limited football. Everton simply revolved around the South African, who happened to play in Billy's favoured position. But I would throw into that argument that Victor Anichebe who, despite some excellent recent performances, is not and will never be a left-sided midfielder, has been given far more opportunity than Billy to stake his claim this term.

Beyond this, Bilyaletdinov is often rumoured to prefer the right midfield position, his much-adored wonderstrike versus Manchester United a clear statement of potential. And though seemingly all Evertonians have been pleased if not delighted with the emergence of Seamus Coleman in this position, can any of them honestly say they would have resented Billy being given a few games here, if for no other reason than resting the Irishman which increasingly evidently is looking to be required.

But for his part, and in contrast to the unreliable Van Der Meyde, Bilyaletdinov's attitude has been first rate. Any opportunity to voice his natural discontent has been ignored in favour of praising the club and reiterating the current goals for the team. And this after Russia's national coach Dick Advocaat stated in August that Bilyaletdinov may have to move in order to retain his place in the national side. This displays exactly the sort of humility and team spirit Moyes aims to instil into each and every Everton player, and it therefore deserves rewarding with a good run of games.

With the coffers at Goodison all too predictably and publicly bereft, how can a player that cost the best part of £9m sit on the bench? It is worth noting than Bilyaletdinov is Everton's third most expensive acquisition. After costly flops in the form of Beattie, Johnson and now seemingly Yakubu, Moyes owes it to Kenwright and the tens of thousands of Evertonians, disappointed time and time again by the manager's regular transfer excitement snuffing, to get the best out of the player. Were Billy not here, surely we could go out and buy two or three decent players to improve the squad. So that not being the case, let's make the best of what we have and play him.

Come on Moyes, the boy has served his spell on the side-lines and has passed the test. Turn that great goal against West Ham into momentum, and get him in the team. Who knows, it may just save this torrid season.

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