Marcel Brands must seal a summer swoop for Everton to sign Daryl Dike despite Emile Heskey questioning whether the Barnsley striker is currently Premier League standard.
The Toffees have been linked with a potential move for the 20-year-old at the end of the season by Eurosport and TEAMtalk, having begun to track the Orlando City loanee following his remarkable start to life in the Championship.
Since moving to Oakwell on Deadline Day of the winter market, Dike has scored eight goals in 14 second-tier fixtures, including braces against Wycombe Wanderers and Luton Town to help the Tykes mount a promotion challenge.
His immediate impact in the Championship is thought to have impressed Everton’s scouts sufficiently to keep further tabs on his progress, and they have even shown the most interest in his situation despite admiration from Manchester United and Chelsea.
Leeds United, West Ham, Newcastle and Wolverhampton Wanderers are also among the growing list of potential suitors but could face paying as much as $20m (£14.5m), while Barnsley are claimed to have a £17m option to buy.
Heskey, who scored 111 goals in 516 career Premier League games, has become a big fan of Dike but has reservations over the 20-year-old being ready for the step up to the top flight just yet.
“When you’re talking about a powerful, powerful player, with the ability to hold the ball up as the lone striker, there will be so many clubs who need and want that.
“The higher you get up the leagues, it becomes tougher. Defenders become cuter, goalkeepers become better, everyone becomes fitter, stronger, wiser. So, you’ve got to become better.”
Heskey’s hesitancy to back Dike making a successful step up to the Premier League after just six months of Championship action could prove worrisome for some of his potential suitors, but Everton’s Director of Football Brands must still push through with the Merseyside club’s interest.
The Toffees are bound to be in the market for a new centre-forward in the off-season with Galatasaray and Fenerbahce target Joshua King expected to be released, while Carlo Ancelotti continues to fuel speculation of Moise Kean sealing a permanent exit.
Cenk Tosun also faces an uncertain future at Goodison Park, although Everton may struggle to sell the Turkey international after he ruptured his patella tendon while representing loan club Besiktas earlier this month.
Neither Tosun nor King have been able to rival Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison for minutes at centre-forward under Ancelotti this season, as well, while the Brazilian can struggle to lead the line without having Calvert-Lewin beside him.
Dike can relieve some of that pressure in being a powerful target man who is able to hold the ball up, as Heskey has said, while proving adept at finding the net to already become Barnsley’s second-best scorer in the Championship this season.
His eight goals have come from just 12 shots on target, a much superior conversion rate to Richarlison (six goals from 25 on-target efforts) and Calvert-Lewin (14 goals from 36 on-target attempts) in the Premier League this season.
Dike has also been dubbed a “relentless competitor” by George Gelnovatch, his former University head coach at Virginia Cavs, under whom he developed before being drafted by Orland City in 2020.
The step-up from college football to Major League Soccer was not an issue for Dike with eight goals in 17 games, and neither is life in the Championship.
To doubt the youngster making a similar leap to perform in the Premier League would be questionable, and that’s why Everton must take a punt on the twice-capped USA international this summer.
AND in other news, a rarely-seen Everton outcast is wanted in a £10.5m summer transfer…