Everton: New deal for Chelsea target; Witsel update; Dutch defender linked
It’s still all talk and no action at Everton with the beginning of the Premier League season looming just five days away. Ronald Koeman appears to be keeping his cards close to his chest, refusing to discuss any potential targets that he is interested in.
However, if reports are to be believed then the Toffees are keen to tie down their much-coveted centre-forward Romelu Lukaku. The 23-year-old has been the target of interest from Chelsea, and the Daily Express report that Goodison Park officials are hoping to sit down with the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, in order to discuss a deal to keep Lukaku on Merseyside.
According to stories emerging over the past couple of weeks, Chelsea have been lining up a move for the Belgian international, something which has annoyed Koeman and others within the Everton hierarchy. They intend to keep their star man, who has three years remaining on his current contract, and thanks to the backing of new owner Farad Moshiri the club now possess the financial muscle to offer him a deal that matches up to his demands.
Lukaku limped off during Everton’s 1-0 friendly defeat to Espanyol at the weekend, and despite requiring stitches for a heel injury, Koeman has confirmed that he expects the player to be fit ahead of the season opener against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Everton appear to have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Lukaku’s international team-mate Axel Witsel. It has been mooted that the Zenit St. Petersburg midfielder has been a summer target of the Toffees but Italian news outlet Gazetta World claim that Juventus are leading the race for the player after Witsel reportedly claimed that the Italian champions would be his preferred destination.
The news would make sense, as with the impending departure of Paul Pogba to Manchester United, the Bianconeri will be looking to bring in a replacement ahead of the beginning of the Serie A season. This may explain why, despite being linked with a move all summer and expressing his desire to leave his current side, nothing concrete has occurred on the transfer front for Witsel. With the signing of Idrissa Gueye, Everton appeared to have become fed up with how drawn out the saga was becoming, and if the latest reports are true then it suggests that the reason for the 27-year-old’s lack of urgency to force through a deal is that he has his sights set on filling the void left by Pogba in Turin.
Finally, one man who may be on his way to Everton is Dutch defender Bruno Martins Indi. Portuguese newspaper A Bola are reporting that his current employers Porto are expecting to cash in on the centre-back and the Toffees are believed to be leading the way for his signature.
Martins Indi made his name at Feyenoord and was a part of the Netherlands squad which reached the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup, with his impressive displays reportedly attracting the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Surprisingly, he chose a move to Portugal but is expected to leave this summer after two years at the Estadio Dragao. If the claims are true, then Koeman clearly thinks he can tempt his fellow countryman to Goodison Park as a potential replacement for Manchester City target John Stones.
Martins Indi has worked under the Everton boss before, both were at Feyenoord between 2011 and 2014, and a return to playing under his former manager may be a tempting prospect for the player. Under Roberto Martinez, the Toffees had the joint sixth worst defence in the division last season, and they will require more than just the signing of one defender in order to solve that. Two centre-backs and a top-class goalkeeper are badly needed, and if Everton are to stand any chance of competing for Europe then Koeman needs to act fast in order to bring in the necessary reinforcements.
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