Marcus set for Everton move

IPSWICH striker Marcus Bent is poised to sign for Everton in a £450,000 deal.Town will collect a down payment of £300,000 with the outstanding sum due in 12 months' time.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH striker Marcus Bent is poised to sign for Everton in a £450,000 deal.

Town will collect a down payment of £300,000 with the outstanding sum due in 12 months' time.

And the move could be the first of several that will shed millions from the Portman Road wage bill.

Midfield pair Jermaine Wright and Martijn Reuser are all set to join the exodus, with boss Joe Royle already closing in on players he believes will reinforce his squad.

Former England Under-21 star Bent, who scored ten goals in 35 appearances on loan at relegated Leicester last season, was due at Everton's Bellefield training ground today for another round of signing talks.

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He was there yesterday for discussions with boss David Moyes and will be looking to agree personal terms and undergo a medical when he returns.

Moyes said today: “Marcus has pace and athleticism and he scored more goals than anybody else in a struggling Leicester side last season.

“I see him as a right-winger as well as a forward and that versatility is important to us. He is 26, has a good stature and I am hopeful he will agree to sign today.”

Bent cost £3million when George Burley signed him from Blackburn in November 2001 and has netted 23 goals in 70 outings for Town.

The news will disappoint Portsmouth, who also had a similar offer accepted after Fratton Park boss Harry Redknapp tried without success to secure the player on a free transfer.

Pompey have now missed out on four targets this summer, having seen Muzzy Izzet, Paul Dickov and Ben Thatcher all leave Leicester for Birmingham, Blackburn and Manchester City respectively.

If Everton can hang on to England wonder kid Wayne Rooney, they will be looking to 26-year-old Bent to link up with him.

The Goodison outfit are strapped for cash, leading to speculation that 18-year-old Rooney will soon be on his way, although the Toffees are reluctant to cash in just yet.

Meanwhile, out-of-contract midfielder Wright has confirmed he will not be extending his five-year stay at the club.

He has also attracted interest from Everton, although the word from Merseyside today was that he is unlikely to join Bent at Goodison.

Reuser, meanwhile, has one year of his contract remaining and he is discussing a free transfer move to Willem II in his native Holland.

If Bent, Wright and Reuser all move on and with defender John McGreal having already signed for Burnley, it will mean a whopping £2.5million slashed from Ipswich's wage bill.

Add the £450,000 they will pocket from the sale of Bent and cash-strapped Town will be almost £3million better off.

Town are committed to reducing their annual salary costs to £5million, which is why they could not afford to keep Bent and offered Wright a two-year deal on reduced terms.

To plug the gaps, Royle has a short list of cut-price replacements and has already put out feelers to land the players he wants.

Skipper Jim Magilton, Richard Naylor and Fabian Wilnis are all expected to sign new 12-month deals in the next few days before pre-season training resumes on Monday.

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