Italian journalist Carlo Alvino claimed on Canale 8, via quotes by Spazio Napoli, earlier this week that Carlo Ancelotti was never a fan of Alex Meret during his time in charge of SSC Napoli, so the Blues boss must not pull a full 180 and bring the goalkeeper to Everton.
Meret has been linked with a potential summer switch to Goodison Park by reports in Italy last weekend, reports which claimed that Ancelotti has a strong interest in being reunited with the 24-year-old.
The opportunity for a potential reunion has arisen as Meret is thought to be considering his future at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium following a battle for the number one jersey, and he could hand in a transfer request at the end of the season.
Reports by Gazzetta dello Sport, via Sport Witness, also alleged that Napoli are working to extend Ospina’s contract, which has not eased Meret’s train of thought over a move away.
Meret intends to be the starting goalkeeper for whichever club he represents next season. But while Gazzetta dello Sport claim there is a 30% chance of that being Everton, Alvino has spoken about the doubts that Ancelotti had about the player in the past.
“Ancelotti didn’t bet on Meret; he wanted [Alphonse] Areola,” Alvino said. “[Sporting Director Cristiano] Giuntoli wanted [Bernd] Leno, then [owner Aurelio] De Laurentiis took Meret.
“It seems strange that Ancelotti is keen on Meret to take him to the Premier. I spoke to him about the boy, and he said: ‘As a goalkeeper, he has to be able to save’. Ancelotti was an old school coach.”
Ospina is claimed to be Gattuso’s favoured option at Napoli as the Colombian is better than Meret with the ball at his feet, although Alvino’s comments would suggest that Ancelotti also had doubt over the one-time Italy international’s ability as a shot-stopper.
If Alvino’s comments are true and Ancelotti harboured doubts over Meret’s talents when De Laurentiis sanctioned the Italian’s €22m (£19m) arrival in 2018, then the Everton boss must stay well clear of pulling a U-turn as the goalkeeper has not improved in the years since.
During Meret’s debut campaign at Napoli, he registered an 85% save percentage over his 14 Serie A appearances with 40 of 47 shots on target kept out. That dropped to 63% last term over 22 outings, with the £36,000-per-week talent only saving 46 of 76 attempts, per FBref.
It has been no wonder that Gattuso has often chosen to overlook Meret during the current season, either, with the former SPAL star saving just 35 of 49 shots on target faced, for a 69% success rate over his 12 appearances to date.
For comparison, Jordan Pickford – Ancelotti’s current number one at Everton – is saving 72% of shots on target over his 23 appearances in the Premier League, with 69 of 97 kept out, for the highest percentage of his time at Goodison Park so far.
If Ancelotti had doubts in Meret’s talents, that have seemingly not improved, then there should be no reason for the Italians to be reunited at Everton this summer.
AND in other news, an “exceptional” Everton figure is being eyed by a Premier League rival…