Manchester United offered Everton the greatest level of respect possible this summer by blocking Portugal Under 21 international Diogo Dalot from joining Carlo Ancelotti’s side on loan.
According to Italian transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, the Red Devils blocked Dalot from moving to Goodison Park this summer as they fear Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will be competing with Ancelotti’s for the top spots in this season’s Premier League table.
Everton have begun the campaign in fine fashion with four wins from four to remain the only unbeaten side along with Aston Villa, who trail the Toffees by three points having seen the start of their season delayed by a week through Manchester City’s Champions League commitments.
United, meanwhile, sit a lowly 16th having claimed just three points from a possible nine, while being hit for six at home to Tottenham Hotspur prior to the international break to boast the third-worst defensive record thus far.
Everton’s performances over the opening month could have been even greater, too, had Director of Football Marcel Brands been able to stike a deal with United to sign Dalot on loan, who Romano believes was a firm target of Ancelotti before he joined AC Milan.
“He was really close to joining Everton,” Romano said on the Here We Go podcast. “It was [around] July [or] August, Everton asked for Diogo Dalot many times because Carlo Ancelotti is in love with Diogo Dalot, he is convinced he was perfect for Everton.
“But Manchester United said: ‘okay, let’s loan him out on a simple loan, but not to Everton,’ because they consider Everton as a competitor for this season. They don’t want to give a player on loan to a team who is going to compete with Manchester United for [a] Champions League place this year.”
Rumours of Ancelotti’s interest in Dalot first emerged over the summer with reports by the Mirror claiming the Italian saw him as the long-term solution to bolster Everton’s defence.
The Blues boss further felt a permanent move could be secured for around £10million, despite United spending £19.5m on his capture during Jose Mourinho’s tenure at Old Trafford, having fallen behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka in Solskjaer’s pecking order.
Romano’s update just goes to show how highly Ancelotti rates the 21-year-old, who thrived for Portugal’s Under 21s against Norway during the October international break. But the journalist’s comments also highlight how United paid Everton a great deal of respect this summer by considering the Goodison Park natives as a rival for the Champions League places.
Everton have not competed for the premier UEFA places since Roberto Martinez’s tenure on Merseyside, with the Toffees ending the 2013/14 season seven points shy of fourth-placed Arsenal after winning nine of their last 12 games.
Since that campaign, Everton have claimed no higher finish than the seventh-place secured under Ronald Koeman in 2016/17 and finished three seasons outside the top-10 – including last term, with their worst top-flight standing since 2003/04.
It was, however, the 2004/05 season in which Everton claimed their last top-four finish with David Moyes’ men ending the campaign just three points above rivals Liverpool even with a minus-one goal difference. And after the strong start led by Ancelotti this year, could the 2020/21 season be their long-awaited return?
AND in other news, Everton have made a decision on the future of a £3million outcast.