Everton have emerged as the favourites to sign Sheffield United’s Phil Jagielka if the Blades’ relegation from the Premier League is confirmed.
Wigan and Bolton are also keen on the £4m-rated utility player, who has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave Bramall Lane if Sheffield United are relegated.
Chairman Terry Robinson said: “Everton are the favourites – it is Phil’s preferred choice.
“If Sheffield United are reinstated, it’s highly unlikely Phil will leave.”
Robinson added: “If we’re not reinstated, then he’ll invoke the clause in his contract. If we’re reinstated we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.”
New Sheffield United boss Bryan Robson admitted after taking over: “Keeping Phil looks like it’s going to be a problem.
“He’s told me he would rather stay in the Premiership, providing it’s the best thing for both him and the club.
“My job now looks like it’s going to be trying to ensure we get the best deal possible. That’s what I’ll be trying my best to do.”
Jagielka, 24, who was released by Everton as a teenager, recently made his international bow, coming on as a substitute during the recent England B game against Albania.
Meanwhile, Everton have confirmed that both Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill have agreed new five-year contracts.
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said: “Negotiations have now been satisfactorily concluded and I know the two lads are as happy as we are.”
Kenwright added: “David Moyes and myself were keen to get these important extensions wrapped up before the new season opens. We did it in the Everton way – quietly, efficiently and away from the glare of the spotlight.”