James McCarthy has ended speculation over a possible move to Tottenham Hotspur or title contenders Manchester City by agreeing terms on a new long-term contract at Everton. The highly rated Republic of Ireland midfielder, an FA Cup winner with former employers Wigan, has emerged as one of the most influential figures at Goodison Park since following manager Roberto Martinez to Merseyside on transfer deadline day back in September 2013.
He made 37 appearances in all competitions last term as Everton laboured to an 11th-place domestic finish and also progressed to the last 16 of the Europa League, with a hamstring injury keeping him sidelined for much of December and January.
McCarthy returned to the starting line-up for the goalless draw against rivals Liverpool on 7 February and his level of performance over the remaining months of an otherwise inconsistent campaign has led to sustained gossip regarding a potential transfer.
The Mail reported in July that Tottenham were eager to sign the 24-year-old and even willing to offer former Toffees loanee Aaron Lennon as part of any deal, while Manchester City were frequently linked with his services prior to completing the £8m ($12.4m) signing of Fabian Delph from Aston Villa.
Such rumours can now be firmly set aside, though, with Everton confirming via their official website that McCarthy has today (6 August) signed an improved five-year deal to stay at the club until at least June 2020.
After confirmation of the agreement, the player said: "I'm buzzing and delighted to be committing my future long-term to Everton. I've loved every minute I've been here, with the fans having made me feel so welcome from day one, as well as the players and staff.
"This is a brilliant club with a brilliant fanbase and what we want to try to do is bring some success here and push forward. The gaffer is trying to build a team and a squad for the long-term and I'm excited to be a part of that and to be a part of this team."
Battle to keep John Stones continues
Martinez has already been forced to contend with strong and repeated interest from Chelsea in defender John Stones so far this summer, so McCarthy's commitment will come as a great source of comfort to the Spaniard. "When you are trying to shape a squad, the new faces are always important, but it's vital to be able to build also on the continuity of top performers at the club and James represents that," he added.
"That vital element of continuity in the squad is a great boost for the club, with James committing to a new, long-term contract. He has gone from strength to strength since his arrival here at the Club and he's still a young man whom we want to see grow and continue to help the team to achieve success.
"At the age of 24, he's already contributed immensely towards the team these past two seasons and the fact that the best years of his career lie ahead of him is something that is tremendously exciting for the team and for the fans."
McCarthy, who appeared in all seven of Everton's pre-season friendlies against the likes of Stoke, Arsenal, Leeds United and Villarreal, is sure to be greeted warmly by supporters on 8 August as Martinez's team begin their 2015-16 season at home to newly promoted Watford.
Stones should be fit to play in that match, although doubts remain over the fitness of Romelu Lukaku and Aiden McGeady. Steven Pienaar and the returning Gerard Deulofeu will almost certainly miss out, while former Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley could be in line to make his competitive debut for the club.