Rafael Benítez admits Everton will have to sell players to meet rules

Rafael Benítez has confirmed the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules have constrained Everton’s transfer activity and left him no alternative but to tell several players they can leave.

Financial issues are only one of the problems confronting Benítez at Everton, where five senior players are in isolation because of Covid-19 protocols and a section of the fanbase remains opposed to the former Liverpool manager’s appointment.

The club have spent only £1.7m this summer on Demarai Gray, although they have also signed Andros Townsend and Asmir Begovic, having posted combined losses of almost £265m in the three years up to 2019-20, a breach of the league’s rules.

James Rodríguez, the highest-earner and one of the five players unable to face Southampton on Saturday because they are isolating, is understood to be among those told by Benítez they can go.

“The reality is that we know the financial fair play rules are there and we have to follow them,” Benítez said. “I know what is the situation and we will try to do our best with the players we have. If we can strengthen our squad we will try to do it. In these circumstances we have to move players on – that is simple to understand.”

Benítez would not name all five in isolation but confirmed two of Moise Kean, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and André Gomes were also among them. Despite the early difficulties in his reign, the Everton manager believes there is improvement to come from a squad that finished 10th last season.

“The relationship with the players has to be professional in terms of how you explain to them a decision,” he said. “If you are telling them you have to go because you will not be part of the squad, then you have to be clear and you have to be honest and you have to do it as soon as possible. Then they have time to manage the situation.

“At the same time, I know the ambition of the owners, the club and everyone here but the financial fair play rules are there and we have to manage that. I believe I can do it. My staff is quite good and we have experience and we know this group of players can improve. We will try to do that, we will fight from day one and if something is wrong we will fight even harder.

“That is our way to do things and that is how we won trophies everywhere. We will try to be sure we don’t give up at any time even if we lose a game, or two games. We will try to be sure that the next one we are ready and the fans they have to have this conviction, this belief, that we will do it.”