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Sevilla triumph will have Everton fans regretting Steven N’Zonzi failure

The French midfielder was heavily linked with a move to Everton in January.

Mathew Nash

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Manchester United were sent crashing out of the Champions League last night, with Spanish side Sevilla doing the damage at Old Trafford. Two goals from substitute Wissam Ben Yedder sent United on their way and fans were left frustrated at their side’s negative and reactive tactics. United were dominated in midfield, with Steven N’Zonzi in fine form.

His performance would have been hard to take for Everton fans. In January it certainly looked as though the Frenchman was on his way to Goodison Park. The Liverpool Echo reported that Everton were keen, with the player valued at £25 million.

SEVILLE, SPAIN – AUGUST 22: Steven N’Zonzi of Sevilla FC reacts during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Play-Offs round second leg match between Sevilla FC and Istanbul Basaksehir F.K. at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on August 22, 2017 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Toward the end of December Everton manager Sam Allardyce made his interest in the midfielder clear, being quoted by the Daily Mail as stating:

“I’d be very interested in Steven but if you have a look at how many footballers there are at the club, then it is impossible for me to block that up even more.

“We would be better served in other areas – like another goalscorer, maybe a full-back. After that who knows.”

It seemed that Everton’s litany of midfield options put paid to any actual deal. Allardyce, who had tried calling N’Zonzi up for England duty and first brought him to England with Blackburn Rovers, was clearly a fan. But unless Morgan Schneiderlin or another midfielder moved on a deal was off the cards for the player.

NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM, SEPTEMBER 22: Robert Earnshaw of Nottingham Forest competes for the ball with Steven N’Zonzi of Blackburn Rovers during the Carling Cup third round match between Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers at The City Ground on September 22, 2009 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

At the time the French midfielder’s Sevilla career looked over. He had fallen out with manager Eduardo Berizzo and was in danger of being frozen out. When Italian Vincenzo Montella replaced Berizzo, N’Zonzi was back in favour.

Everton therefore never managed to bring in the player in January. Based on the evidence of last night they are clearly missing out. The French international provided the perfect basis for Ever Banega to pull the strings in midfield for Sevilla. N’Zonzi, who also had a successful spell at Stoke City, was composed, athletic and commanding in the midfield.

Everton have struggled to find consistency this season. Much of that has been down to the fluctuating performances of their central midfielders. N’Zonzi would have been an immense January arrival for the Toffees.

Allardyce is a massive fan, but his future at Everton looks to be on the ropes itself. Any dream Everton have of bringing in N’Zonzi looks to be dead. After watching him dominate United last night, that is a bitter pill to swallow.

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

Everton

Three free agent goalkeeper options for Everton to add depth

Everton should consider adding depth to the goalkeeping department this summer.

Mathew Nash

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Everton currently have a fine goalkeeper in Jordan Pickford. Signed last summer from Sunderland he was the club’s player of the season last term and is now England’s number one stopper.

But it could be argued they are lacking in reserve. The veteran Maarten Stekelenburg has been an injury concern in recent times. Meanwhile, Spaniard Joel Robles has left the club at the end of his contract. It leaves youngster Mateusz Hewelt as the club’s current third-choice.

Considering his inexperience and Stekelenburg’s injury troubles, surely Everton should consider bringing in another goalie this summer?

Of course, they will not want to pay top dollar to do so.

So here are three free agent stoppers that Everton could target this summer…

Tim Krul

The Dutchman has struggled to find his way back into first-team football since a horror knee injury in 2015.

He spent last season as back-up to Mathew Ryan at Brighton and is now looking for a new club.

Since that knee injury, Krul has remained fit and would be a great back-up to Pickford.

(Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Rafael

The first-choice keeper under Rafa Benitez at Napoli in 2014-15 the Brazilian found himself pushed down the pecking order over the past two seasons by Pepe Reina.

Undoubtedly a talented stopper with three Brazil caps to his name, he would be a solid option in reserve.

(Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

Miguel Santos

One Everton fans probably have not heard of, but perhaps the most likely addition.

Fresh from helping Fortuna Sittard to promotion to the Eredivisie the Portuguese talent will be known to Everton boss Marco Silva.

They worked together at Estoril when Silva was the manager. Santos, at the time, was a promising youngster but left for Benfica in 2012.

He had a spell at Port Vale in 2016 and a move back to England as Everton’s third-choice would surely appeal to the 23-year-old.

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Liverpool

Steven Gerrard called incoming Liverpool star Alisson ‘world-class’ in April

Liverpool will complete a world record move for the Brazilian this week.

Mathew Nash

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Liverpool are set to give the fans what they want by signing a new goalkeeper. A world record fee has been agreed with AS Roma for Brazilian number one Alisson this week. Liverpool will pay the Italian side £67 million for the 25-year-old. Sky Sports report he will undergo a medical this week and a deal will then be finalised.

It is a bold move from Liverpool, who for a number of seasons have suffered with mediocre goalkeeping performances from Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet.

Alisson is considered one of the best keepers in Europe and keeps Manchester City’s brilliant Ederson Moraes on the bench for his country.

He is certainly highly-rated by one former Liverpool player and legend. Steven Gerrard is a big fan of the player.

He spoke highly of the goalie whilst working on BT Sport as a Champions League pundit last season.


“This fella does deserve the praise he is getting of late. He makes world-class saves, he’s up quick, he makes second saves. A world-class keeper no doubt.”

– Steven Gerrard talking of Alisson’s quality in April 2018

 


Of course, Liverpool came up against Alisson and his Roma side in the competition. Over the course of two legs, the Reds put seven goals past the Brazilian. It led some fans to question whether Alisson was actually the right man for Liverpool.

 

But Liverpool needed a keeper with pedigree. Karius is simply too error-prone and his confidence must be at an all-time low after his Champions League final woe.

Liverpool fans will hope Alisson can live up to Gerrard’s ‘world-class’ tag and his price-tag next season.

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Liverpool

Three alternatives for Liverpool with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out for the season

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Photo: Getty Images.

Amid what felt like a positive few days for Liverpool, fans were brought back down to earth by the devastating blow that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is unlikely to return from injury in 2018/19.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed the news after the midfielder suffered damage to his posterior cruciate ligament, anterior cruciate ligament, and medial ligaments in a challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov in a Champions League semi-final against Roma.

Oxlade-Chamberlain underwent successful surgery only a few days after the incident but is not expected to be available for selection and fully fit until the 2019/20 season.

“It feels like now is an appropriate time to tell people that for Ox this coming season will be about focusing on recovery and rehab. We have known this from pretty much the day after he got the injury and after the successful surgery, we were sure of it. There has been no change, the new information is that we’re now giving more detail publicly. But the truth of the matter is that we are preparing this season knowing he will not be with us on the pitch for competitive matches for the majority of it. If we do see him back this season it will be a bonus.”

Jurgen Klopp broke the news to the club’s official website.

The news comes as a real negative for Klopp, who will be busy planning how to get through the campaign without one of the team’s best performers in the tail end of last season.

His absence will open the door for three other men at Anfield though…

Georgino Wijnaldum

The arrivals of Naby Keita and Fabinho looked to be a major concern for the Dutchman, but with Oxlade-Chamberlain ruled out it seems unlikely that he will be moved on this summer at least. Quietly efficient and often producing in big games, he has been one of the first to have a finger pointed at him in frustrating results against lower level opposition.

With such high quality additions, Wijnaldum falls into the category of a player without the glamour of the likes of Keita but lacking the status of Jordan Henderson or James Milner. At times he has had his biggest impact in a more advanced midfield role, and whilst he lacks the injured man’s energy, he could be an option.

Nabil Fekir

Despite a deal seemingly being called off, Dean Jones of Bleacher Report has suggested that a move could be back on and Fekir would take up the role of natural playmaker as the attacking option in Klopp’s midfield trio. Whilst he may not be a direct replacement for Oxlade-Chamberlain, he would be the closest to filling Philippe Coutinho since he left in January and the former Southampton man really stepped up his game.

It could be a big ask for Fekir arriving at a new club after such a short pre-season following a successful World Cup campaign with France, but there is little doubt that if he joins Fekir would be the highest quality alternative in his place.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Adam Lallana

Lallana was a favourite with his hard working attitude playing into Jurgen Klopp’s system perfectly, but the last season was a difficult one for the midfielder as he suffered a number of injury set-backs and never really got going for the Reds.

The most natural replacement in a midfield three given that it was the role he occupied before Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived from Arsenal, he may have a refreshed chance to make his claim this season.

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