Everton have been dealt a huge blow in the club’s rumoured chase of AS Roma defender Gianluca Mancini, who has performed at a higher level than Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly this season.
According to Gianluca Di Marzio, the Roma hierarchy have declared that Mancini is ‘untouchable’ in the summer transfer window and will block any attempts to sign the 24-year-old.
Mancini is aware of Roma’s position regarding his immediate future and will look to use the club’s stance as leverage in discussions over a new deal.
The centre-back’s agent Giuseppe Riso is due to meet with Roma in the coming weeks to discuss a new contract, as Mancini has become one of the most important parts of Paulo Fonseca’s plans.
His efforts have attracted widespread interest, including from Everton, who Calciomercato claimed are big admirers of the Italy international earlier this month.
Premier League rivals Chelsea, as well as Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich and Serie A giants Juventus and Inter Milan, were also listed as potential destinations, but any side wishing to sign Mancini were claimed to face a €39m (£33.5m) asking price, with Roma valuing the former Atalanta star at €10-15m (£8.5-13m) more than they paid the Gewiss Stadium natives in September.
Roma allegedly declaring that Mancini is unavailable for a move in the off-season will come as a huge blow for Everton, as the four-cap centre-back has been performing at a higher standard in the Serie A this season than Napoli’s Koulibaly.
That chase is likely to come at around €50m (£43m) with Napoli lowering their asking price, but paying more to sign Koulibaly may actually see Everton acquire a lesser option than Mancini.
Per WhoScored data, Mancini eclipses Koulibaly for average number of successful tackles made per Serie A game this term with 1.6 to 1.2, as well as for interceptions (2.1 to 1), opponents caught offside (1 to 0.7) and clearances (2 to 1.9).
The pair are evenly matched for times dribbled past per game at 0.5, and when on the ball with both registering an 89% pass success rate, with Koulibaly’s only distinct advantage being in fouls committed with one per game to Mancini’s two.
Mancini, though, is working on improving his discipline as he looks to round off the edges to his game that are not yet polished. Also, with age on his side, the Roma star may have been the better option for Everton to target.
“I have to improve on so many areas, such as not getting so many yellow cards and reading the game better. I do feel that I have become a better defender over the last year, also because I am accumulating experience,” he told Sky Sport Italia earlier this month, via quotes by Football-Italia.