How Everton Chased Ancelotti For Two Years


Everton’s pursuit of Carlo Ancelotti was more than two years in
the making. Everton’s ambitious majority investor Farhad
Moshiri has wanted a truly world-class manager ever since he took over in February 2016.
He thought he had one in Ronald Koeman but, when the Dutchman’s spell in charge flatlined
in his second season, Moshiri decided to try again. After dispensing with Koeman, he began a pursuit
for a manager who really would bring the A-list to a region he had called the Hollywood of
football. He turned to Ancelotti. It was a similar time of year. The call first went
out to the Italian in November 2017 as Moshiri attempted to lure him out of a planned spell
relaxing away from the game following his sacking by Bayern Munich two months earlier. Ancelotti’s representatives were intrigued
and impressed with what Everton had to say, but the former Real Madrid and Chelsea manager
was reluctant to join a club mid-season, preferring to wait until summer 2018. The suggestion in some quarters was that Ancelotti
wanted a clean slate, a summer transfer window, lots of money to spend and former Swansea
manager Paul Clement as his assistant. Everton needed someone there and then, eventually
turning to Sam Allardyce. The following May, a week after Moshiri sacked Allardyce, his
dream target Ancelotti was unveiled as Napoli’s new manager on a three-year contract. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and, once
again, Moshiri needed a new manager. He had dispensed with Marco Silva on December 6,
and the pressure was on to finally find the man who can revive the fortunes of a club
in which he has – under his watch – invested almost half a billion pounds on transfers
alone. Meanwhile, despite guiding Napoli through
the group stages of the Champions League on December 10, Ancelotti was looking for work
again after being sacked by Aurelio de Laurentiis. Moshiri wasted no time getting in touch. The
wider footballing community wasted no time, incidentally, in arching a quizzical eyebrow. But Moshiri thinks big and has always craved
a big name. A well-placed source recalls the owner speculating
aloud during one of his first recruitment meetings over the possibilities of signing
Cesc Fabregas and Mesut Ozil, as well as Joe Hart, who at the time highly thought of both
for England and Manchester City. The summer after sacking Koeman he sounded
out Diego Simeone for the job of manager. Simeone’s people did not dismiss the approach
straight away. After firing Silva, approaches were made to
Mauricio Pochettino, out of work having been sacked by Tottenham on November 19. The Argentine
wasn’t interested but it set the tone for the type of manager Moshiri really wanted
— even if he would allow others to suggest more predictable names in the wider search
for a new boss. Now, emboldened by the support of someone
with a track record of making things happen in football, he tried again for the man he
had always wanted. Moshiri knows fellow Iranian Kia Joorabchian
from his time at Arsenal and the businessman is a trusted ally. The Athletic understands
that, in the past, Joorabchian has been asked for his thoughts on important decisions, including
the dismissal of former manager Marco Silva and the prospective appointment of Vitor Pereira. It was actually Joorabchian who suggested
Everton could move for Ancelotti. The former Chelsea manager had initially been in the
frame for the Arsenal job, only for the north London club’s head of football, Raul Sanllehi,
to veto a move in favour of the younger Mikel Arteta. It was a turn of events that are believed
to have disappointed Ancelotti, but the feeling in agents’ circles, particularly those in
the capital, was that the Italian nevertheless remained keen on a swift return to management,
with a Premier League club his priority. Everton, for their part, had seen Pereira,
the early favourite, rule himself out of the running on Tuesday December 9. A host of other
candidates were mooted. Chairman Bill Kenwright suggested Arteta, Bournemouth manager Eddie
Howe or a return for David Moyes, while Red Bull’s head of sport and development Ralf
Rangnick was also discussed. The Athletic understands that Moyes was the
closest of the trio to joining, with a deal at one stage appearing likely. It is thought
he felt the job was as good as his and was subsequently unimpressed by the mixed signals
he received as Everton’s interest faded. Moyes is even believed to have withdrawn from
a spot on BT Sport’s coverage of Saturday’s game, focusing on his ex-player Arteta, so
he was not placed in a difficult position discussing his situation. Former Arsenal boss Unai Emery was another
to meet with Moshiri and Kenwright. Ancelotti’s sacking from Napoli and ensuing availability,
however, changed the equation completely. Sensing an opportunity to finally snare the
“Hollywood manager” Moshiri has always desired, the pair made tentative first steps
by contacting Ancelotti’s representatives about a possible move. Despite reports to the contrary, Ancelotti
did not travel to Merseyside for talks the Monday prior to his appointment. High-level
meetings of this nature nearly always take place in London, where both Moshiri and Kenwright
are based. Instead, the Italian flew to the capital a
day later for talks on the Tuesday, where he was represented by his new agency Base
Soccer. Then came the mind-boggling contract proposal (worth in the region of £11 million
a year before tax) and the promise of a huge transfer war chest. A source with knowledge
of the deal suggested to The Athletic that Ancelotti is likely to receive a “very big
budget” to help revamp the Everton squad in his image. By Tuesday afternoon, real momentum had developed
behind the deal. Ancelotti had been won over during a process in which he grilled the Everton
board as much as the other way around. He insisted on a long-term contract and has gradually
been convinced by the “sincerity and ambition of the owner”. With Ancelotti and his people agreeing in
principle to join Everton, all that was left to tie up were a few of the finer details. With those matters finally resolved, Ancelotti
signed a four-and-a-half year contract early on Saturday. Sources have suggested that Ancelotti
will earn an annual net salary of around £6 million. It represents another substantial
investment in the future of the football club, given that Moshiri will also continue to pay
the wages of former manager Silva until such time as the Portuguese finds employment again
in football. “The lads are buzzing to work with Ancelotti,”
said a source close to the first-team. “He’s supposed to be excellent at building very
good relationships with the players. He’ll also attract big name players, so when he
comes in on his first day the squad will want to impress him to make sure they’re part
of his plans.”

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