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If Everton are serious about top four challenge they must battle rivals for Clement Lenglet

The Frenchman has been sublime for Sevilla this season and Everton need a new central defender.

Mathew Nash

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After a summer of investment Everton‘s aim for this season was to challenge for the top four. It was a bold and ambitious plan which failed miserably.

They spent much of the first half of the campaign in the relegation reckoning, sacked their manager and have now limped their way to the top-half playing a dreadful brand of football under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.

It is fair to say, Everton fans are not happy.

Next season, the challenge again will be to try and compete with the Premier League’s elite.

But if Everton are going to do that, they need to improve one area of their team drastically – the defence.

Ashley Williams has been woeful this season and Everton fans would happily see the back of him.

Phil Jagielka does his best, but age is starting to get the better of him. Michael Keane took a while to settle following his move from Burnley.

Meanwhile, Ramiro Funes Mori has been injured most of the campaign and Mason Holgate has had an inconsistent season.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

A new centre-back is a must and, if Everton are serious about challenging for Europe, it needs to be a top defender.

Plenty are about at the moment, but the one which springs to mind for Everton is Sevilla star Clement Llenglet.

He caught the eye of English football fans after shackling Romelu Lukaku at Old Trafford in the Champions League.

The Frenchman has been in fine form for the club this season and now Lenglet is being linked with a host of clubs.

One such team is Liverpool, and with good reason. Lenglet has a release clause in his contract at Sevilla which stands at just €30 million (£26.25 million) – according to Marca.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Considering the price paid for the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Alporte and John Stones after the past year that fee is an absolute bargain.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is expected to dig deep into his pockets again this summer as Everton look to mount a renewed campaign next season.

Beating the likes of Liverpool to Lenglet’s signature would be the biggest signal of intent yet that Everton are ready to push into the Premier League elite.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Everton

Michael Keane is vulnerable at Everton after Mason Holgate’s weekend performance

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Photo: Getty Images

With Everton captain Phil Jagielka suspended for the Toffees’ weekend clash against Southampton, Marco Silva opted to hand youngster Mason Holgate a start in the heart of defence.

Paired alongside Michael Keane, the 21-year-old gave a mature performance in victory over the Saints and there is now a very good chance that he will be given future first team opportunities.

This could leave Keane very vulnerable, with the likes of Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma yet to be considered for the starting XI.

Keane hasn’t done anything near enough to live up to the reputation that followed him after his £30 million move from Turf Moor two summers’ ago.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

After a difficult start to life in Merseyside under Ronald Koeman, he has since fallen out of contention for Gareth Southgate’s England side.

The former Burnley man has looked sluggish and error prone and there is a feeling around Goodison Park that he will become drastically exposed against some of the more menacing top flight sides.

With £27.19 million summer signing Mina on the verge of full fitness, following the World Cup, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him replace Keane in the first team in the coming weeks.

This change would pave way for a young, fresh and exciting centre-back partnership of Holgate and Mina – a solid platform for Silva to build his new team around.

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West Ham United

Is Pedro Obiang the answer for Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham?

The Spaniard is yet to feature this season.

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Obiang
Photo: Getty Images

Something is yet to click for new West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini, with the London outfit falling short in their first two Premier League games of the 2018/19 season.

This weekend saw an opening day away defeat to Liverpool followed up by a 2-1 comeback victory for Bournemouth at the Olympic Stadium, accompanies by a performance that will have disheartened even the most optimistic of fans.

Despite spending over £100 million during the summer window, it is evident from the first two games of the season that the Hammers need a ball-winning central midfielder, capable of bringing balance to the defence and attack.

(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

Sitting on Manuel Pellegrini’s bench is Spaniard Pedro Obiang, who became Slaven Bilic’s first signing for the club, back in 2015. The midfielder was a regular in West Ham’s side up to Christmas last season, but he made just one appearance in the Premier League since February.

Athletic and capable of moving the ball forward, the 26-year-old will be a much more dynamic option than ageing West Ham captain Mark Noble. Meanwhile, he would also improve the spine of the team defensively.

Up next for the Hammers is Arsenal. With a central midfield or Noble and Wilshere/Rice clearly not working, it seems a no-brainer for Pellegrini to promote Obiang to the starting XI for the upcoming clash against Unai Emery’s side.

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Fulham

On this day: Leeds cash in on Wood, Coutinho told he’s staying and Seri’s Barca links

What were the big stories in football a year ago today? Including Leeds United, Liverpool and Fulham.

Mathew Nash

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Chopping Wood

One year ago today and Leeds United lost their talismanic striker Chris Wood to Burnley. After a tumultuous summer of rumours and conjecture, the club’s leading scorer left in a club record £15 million deal.

In his two seasons at Leeds the New Zealand international scored an impressive 44 goals in 88 games for the Whites.

Leeds were desperate not to lose the player and ended up paying for his absence. They failed to replace him, with nearest replica Pierre-Michel Lasogga falling short of expectations.

Wood has since gone on to establish himself at Burnley, scoring 11 goals in 26 games during his first season at Turf Moor.

Leeds now have Kemar Roofe firing and also signed Patrick Bamford this summer.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 19: Chris Wood of Burnley celebrates after scoring a penalty during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Burnley and Leeds United at Turf Moor on September 19, 2017 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

No-go Coutinho

A year ago today and Liverpool had managed to keep hold of Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian had been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona throughout last summer.

However, as reported by Sky Sports a year ago, Liverpool made it clear Coutinho was going nowhere.

In the end, it proved to just be a stall. Coutinho completed the inevitable switch to Barcelona in January for a fee of £146 million.

However, many Liverpool fans would perhaps argue the club are now performing better than they ever did when Coutinho was at Anfield.

Seri-ous money

Signed by Fulham this summer, a year ago today it seemed Jean-Michael Seri was on his way to Barcelona.

Marca suggested that Barcelona had met the apparent £36.6 million release clause in his contract at Nice. Unfortunately, that clause had expired.

With Barcelona not willing to pay more, they moved on.

Seri joined Fulham this summer for a club record fee.

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