And in anticipation of what could prove to be a landmark day for the midfielder, Giovanni Trapattoni has spoken to McCarthy and given him permission to postpone joining up with the Irish squad in Dublin until tomorrow.
However, key to the Goodison Park club coming back in for the player would appear to be the sale of their midfielder Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United.
A handful of Irish journalists learned all of this from just about as close to the horse’s mouth as it ever gets, when Wigan chairman Dave Whelan broke off from a press briefing in the K Club yesterday to take a call from his former manager and now Everton boss Roberto Martinez.
“Chasing James,” Whelan confirmed when he’d hung up, before adding with a laugh, “He’s telling me how tight money is at Everton, you see.”
When it was suggested to Whelan that United losing to Liverpool could have an immediate on the situation, the 76-year-old replied: “That’s just what he (Martinez) has been saying. United losing changes the thing a bit. They might be upping their offer now. They’ll be desperate now to get a midfield player and Fellaini is a good player. And what happens there will dictate what happens to our lad.”
Earlier in the conversation — having already revealed that there had been an expression of interest but no formal bid from Newcastle United — the Wigan owner had explained the background to Everton’s interest in McCarthy.
“They’ve already made one offer, which is not good enough. Roberto knows what he’s valued at so they have to come back in with the right offer. I never would stop a footballer going up to a bigger club or up to the Premier League. If you stop a player going to the club he wants, you never ever get the same response or loyalty out of him again if you stand in his way.”
Whelan went on to say that Everton’s first offer had been “two million short” and when asked how much he felt the player was worth, replied: “You’ve got to be talking 14 million or maybe a little more. Now, that does sound like a lot of money but when you look at what’s happening at present with all the extra money that’s come into the Premier League, it’s just going mad. The transfer market’s gone barmy.”
In the midst of all that frenzy, McCarthy has kept a remarkably cool head, according to his chairman.
“He hasn’t changed one bit, James. He’s very calm, cool, with a level head. He’s such a good lad. Nothing bothers him. He’s very loyal and I’ve said to him, ‘James, if the right offer ever comes in, you know I’ll let you go.’ And he says, ‘Chairman, I trust you’. He’s a good lad.”
Dave Whelan was visiting the K Club to show off the FA Cup which Wigan won last season with a shock victory over Manchester City. Having just landed by helicopter in the grounds of the venue which played host to the Ryder Cup in 2006, the affable club owner posed with local school kids before repairing to the Members Room for a chat with a small group of journalists.
The relaxed conversation had already moved onto the subject of James McCarthy when I mentioned to Whelan that, with just a little over 24 hours to go to the transfer deadline, he must be remaining in close telephone contact with his club while on his brief Irish visit.
“You’ve just reminded me,” he said, putting down his cup of tea. “I’ve been flying, you’re dead right, I’d better switch this back on.”
Just minutes later, Whelan’s phone duly sprang into life. “That’s Roberto now,” he said and then, after an initial exchange of pleasantries with the Everton manager, the course of the conversation made it clear that another stage in the James McCarthy transfer saga was unfolding before our very ears.
Asked, finally, it his gut instinct was telling him that his player would have changed clubs by close of business today, Dave Whelan replied: “This is one where I wouldn’t say yes or no. It will go the wire.”