Tom Cleverley has reportedly opened talks with Everton as he considers his next step after failing to make the grade at Manchester United.
The former England midfielder, the last of whose 13 caps came in November 2013, is out of contract at Old Trafford this summer.
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He spent last season on loan at Aston Villa and showed signs under Tim Sherwood of recapturing the goalscoring promise that he showed in a breakthrough spell at Watford, netting three times in as many games in their Premier League run-in.
The Villans are keen to sign the 25-year-old on a permanent basis, but The Liverpool Echo understands that Cleverley could snub Sherwood to reunite with Toffees boss Roberto Martinez, with whom he worked at Wigan Athletic in 2010-11.
Martinez remains a keen admirer and hopes that negotiations with Cleverley’s representative this week will convince him to choose a free transfer to Goodison rather than Villa Park.
Either way, a move to one of the Premier League’s mid-table stalwarts is a damning concession from the United academy graduate that he needs to step down from the elite level after some tough times with both club and country.