Not finished yet

David Moyes, Everton’s manager since 2002, is also out of contract in the summer and does not intend to make a decision about a new one until the season has finished.-AP

Phil Neville has announced that he is to leave Everton when his current deal expires at the end of the season, stressing that he will be looking to continue his playing career elsewhere.

Phil Neville could be forgiven for choosing to take it easy in the future after 19 years playing at the top level. That is not his way though. Love of football and a desire to extend his playing career for as long as possible mean he is now considering his next move.

Neville has announced that he is to leave Everton — whom he joined from Manchester United in 2005 — when his current deal expires at the end of the season, stressing that he will be looking to continue his playing career elsewhere.

In a statement, he said: “It’s been an honour to play for and captain Everton Football Club. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on Merseyside and will leave with immense pride. I would like to thank the manager, chairman, all of the staff and the players at Everton for their continued support during my time at the club. I’d also like to pay a special thanks to the fans, who have been amazing over the past eight years and Everton will always have a place in my heart. I want to continue to play at the top level as long as I physically can, and will be weighing up my options before making a decision on my next move. I’ll now be doing everything I can to help Everton finish as high up the league table as possible.”

At the age of 36, Neville cannot be guaranteed to find another top-flight club willing to offer him a contract but his experience could make him an attractive proposition for a club like Aston Villa.

Former United team-mate Ryan Giggs has proved that it is possible to keep playing at such an age but the prospect of combing his playing role with coaching duties could be the deciding factor when Neville chooses his next club.

In June, he will work as part of Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21s backroom staff at the European Championship in Israel, having previously done so for the Young Lions’ qualifier against Belgium in February 2012.

Former Everton defender Andy Hinchcliffe believes Neville may well take on coaching duties at his next club. “When he moves on, I would not be surprised if it is not all about playing for Phil,” Hinchcliffe said. “He wants to play for another two or three years and if he is fit enough to do it, then great. But I think he will start to think about the coaching side of things, especially with him being away in the summer in Israel with England Under-21s.”

David Moyes, Everton’s manager since 2002, is also out of contract in the summer and does not intend to make a decision about a new one until the season has finished — something Hinchcliffe feels could well have figured prominently in Neville’s thinking.

“It is a very uncertain summer ahead for Everton I think,” Hinchcliffe added. “David Moyes is not committed to a new contract there, so Phil maybe has had chats with him and he is not really sure what the future holds for Moyes. Maybe he can’t really sign a contract and decide to stay at Everton if he doesn’t know who the manager is going to be.”

Hinchcliffe sees a English Premier League club currently below sixth-placed Everton in the table as a realistic destination for Neville. “I’m sure there are plenty of clubs in the Premier League that will look at him,” Hinchcliffe said. Maybe he can’t cover the ground that he did five or six years ago, but he has a wealth of experience and is a versatile player as well. He can play in central midfield or at right-back, and score the odd goal or two. But I think it would be a struggle for him to move upwards in terms of Premier League clubs — I think you are probably looking at teams that are currently below Everton in the league.”

Neville, who has won 59 England caps, joined United as a trainee in 1993, made his debut for them in January 1995 and won six EPL titles, three FA Cups and the European Cup with the Red Devils.

Following his move to Everton in August 2005, he became skipper at Goodison Park when David Weir left the club in January 2007, and he has made over 300 appearances for the Toffees.

Hinchcliffe hailed Neville’s impact at Everton, saying: “He has been absolutely fantastic for that club. With the standards of his training, the way that he thinks about the game and the way that he performs for that club, I think he has pulled a lot of younger players along with him at Everton as well.”

© PA Sport, 2013, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.