Everton: Williams joins; Manchester United midfielder interest reignited; Kone update
With the Premier League season now just over 48 hours away, Everton boss Ronald Koeman is finally starting to get the transfer business completed that the club’s supporters were promised at the beginning of the summer. Following the departure of John Stones to Manchester City on Tuesday, Koeman has moved swiftly to sign Swansea City defender Ashley Williams for an undisclosed fee, thought to be in the region of £12 million.
The 31-year-old Welsh international has agreed a three-year deal at Goodison Park and is expected to be available for Saturday’s season opener against Tottenham Hotspur. After impressing for the Swans over the past few seasons, Williams’s performances in this summer’s European Championship, where he captained his country in their run to the semi-finals, had seen him linked to both Arsenal and Everton, however, it is Koeman that has eventually won the race to sign the former Stockport County defender.
The Wolverhampton-born man will bring a wealth of experience to a backline that possessed the joint sixth worst defensive record in the division last season. Although his arrival came just a day after Stones’ departure, it is more likely that Williams has been brought in as a replacement for Phil Jagielka. The 34-year-old is probably past his best now and is expected to be a part of Koeman’s defensive overhaul, with a reunion with former Everton boss David Moyes at Sunderland reported to be on the cards.
Meanwhile, in one of the summer’s longest will-he, won’t-he sagas, a move to Goodison Park is rumoured to be back on for Juan Mata. The Spaniard was linked with a move to Merseyside following the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, who famously sold him at Chelsea, but the Manchester United boss claimed, last month, that Mata still had a future at the club if he was willing to get his head down and fight for his spot in the side.
However, after being substituted towards the end of Sunday’s Community Shield victory over Leicester City, despite the fact that he himself had only come on to replace Jesse Lingard half an hour earlier, rumours again began to circulate that the 28-year-old would be on his way to pastures new. The Times are today reporting that Everton are exploring the possibility of signing Mata, although United still remain adamant that the player is not for sale.
A player of Mata’s quality would certainly be a smart addition for Everton, providing some much-needed competition for Ross Barkley in attacking midfield. The two are very different players, with Barkley more willing to drive at opposition defences and pull players out of position, whereas Mata has a slightly more languid approach but his vision and passing ability mean that he is capable of picking out the final ball that Barkley sometimes fails to execute. If Mourinho is looking to sell the player, many observers suggested his actions on Sunday signalled such an intention, then Koeman would be wise to enquire about the possibility of signing Mata in a potential cut-price deal.
Finally, the Liverpool Echo claim that Everton are confident of securing the signing of Sunderland defender Lamine Kone before the end of the week. As part of Koeman’s defensive overhaul, which involved the arrival of Williams, the Ivory Coast international is being sought as a replacement for Stones, but his current employers are thought to be holding out for a bid in the region of £18 million.
The report also claims that the Black Cats are unwilling to allow the player to leave until they have found a suitable replacement. However, the signings of Manchester United duo Paddy McNair and Donald Love, could pave the way for Kone’s departure. Add to this the rumoured interest in Jagielka, and it would not be entirely surprising to see the defender making the move to Goodison Park over the next few weeks.
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