Martínez has been favourite for the post since David Moyes agreed to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and his move could be ratified on Tuesday following the compensation deal. The Wigan chairman, Dave Whelan, told the BBC: “Bill [Kenwright] and myself have sorted out the compensation and Roberto is free to do a deal with Everton if he wants.
“I gave Roberto permission to speak to Everton last week. He came back and told me it had gone well, I think he was down to the last two or three on the list, and then their chairman rang me to discuss the compensation deal and we agreed that this evening.”
That prompted a pointed and unusual response from Everton, who insisted the deal was not yet done. A club statement read: “In response to regrettable and somewhat premature reports earlier this evening, Everton are continuing discussions with regards to the vacant managerial position. Whilst positive moves are being made, the club will officially announce details as and only when they are agreed and completed.”
Everton did not receive any compensation from United for Moyes, who officially starts at Old Trafford when his contract at Goodison Park expires at the end of the month, but have agreed to pay relegated Wigan for the final 12 months of Martínez’s contract at the DW Stadium. Kenwright spent the weekend deliberating on a final three-man shortlist for the job but Martínez was always expected to be offered the position ahead of the Porto coach, Vítor Pereira, and Ralf Rangnick, the former Schalke coach who is the general manager at Salzburg.
Having dismissed Everton as “not big enough” for Martínez last month, the Wigan chairman clarified his comment on Monday: “Sometimes I like to wind up the chairman at Everton. We have had some really entertaining games between Everton and Wigan over the years and when I said I didn’t think it was a big enough club for Roberto I was winding up Bill and their supporters. It is a big club, no question.
“Everton are the next step before Roberto goes to the very top. We had coffee this evening. We are still very good friends and will be friends for the rest of our lives. He is a brilliant manager, a very nice person and very honest.”
The 39-year-old’s playing philosophy and historic FA Cup success with Wigan impressed the Goodison hierarchy, who witnessed both at close hand when Everton suffered an emphatic home defeat in the quarter-finals, and the club were keen to appoint a manager with Premier League experience.
Martínez has spent four years in the top flight with Wigan, finishing 16th, 16th, 15th and finally 18th last season while overhauling the club’s financial position from being dependent on Whelan to making a profit last term. He has won 38 of 152 games in the top flight, a win ratio of 25%.
Martínez cleared the way for his move to Merseyside last Tuesday when he informed Whelan he wished to leave Wigan following the club’s relegation to the Championship. He then held meetings with Kenwright on Wednesday and Friday and has discussed taking members of Wigan’s backroom team with him to Merseyside, including the assistant manager Graeme Jones and the goalkeeping coach Inaki Bergara, although Everton are keen on retaining coaches such as David Weir, Alan Stubbs and Andy Holden.
Weir and Stubbs, along with the former Everton captain Phil Neville, were also interviewed by Kenwright for the manager’s job and several members of their coaching staff will follow Moyes to Old Trafford.
The Spaniard has still to finalise his contract with Everton but that is likely to be a formality after his meetings with Kenwright and the deal should be completed on Tuesday.
The Wigan midfielder James McCarthy could be an early target for the next Everton manager with doubts persisting over Marouane Fellaini’s future. The Belgium international has a £24m release clause in his Everton contract.
The outgoing United assistant manager, René Muelensteen, has been tipped to succeed Martínez at Wigan although Whelan has described reports of his appointment as premature. The former Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle is also believed to be under consideration.
“I’ve had over 30 people applying for the job but I’ve not been able to interview anybody yet because of the agreement over compensation for Roberto,” Whelan said. “I can get on with that now but first I’m going to Jersey for a few days because I promised to show the FA Cup off if we won it.”