Marcel Brands could deliver Carlo Ancelotti his new Arjen Robben by launching a pursuit for Everton to sign Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey.
According to the Liverpool Echo, the Toffees are eager to add depth to Ancelotti’s wide options in the summer transfer market. It is expected that a left-footed player will be preferred, and that Everton’s Director of Football Brands will focus efforts on those aged between 20 and 25/26.
Everton currently have three natural wide players in Richarlison, Alex Iwobi and Bernard, while James Rodriguez, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Joshua King can play on the wings and Anthony Gordon is due to return from a half-season loan with Preston North End.
The Goodison Park natives have prioritised improving Ancelotti’s options in attack and at right-back this summer, and will only chase a new centre-forward should King leave and Moise Kean be sold amid reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.
Brands is considered to have great scope for wide options to target, which is not replicated at right-back with Everton feeling that there are few players available who meet all of Ancelotti’s requirements.
Everton have been linked with Max Aarons but are loath to pay Norwich City’s £30m asking price, while Ancelotti is thought to covet a tall right-back, which may rule 5 ft 5 Tariq Lamptey of Brighton & Hove Albion out of the running.
The Blues are also expected to make a raft of sales to raise funds and clear a bloated wage bill in the off-season, with Bernard and Jonjoe Kenny among those facing uncertain futures and Yannick Bolasie, Southampton-linked Theo Walcott and Reading-linked Mo Besic set to leave at the end of their contracts.
With Everton claimed to be on the search for a young, left-footed winger this summer, Brands should look to formalise the Goodison Park club’s interest in Bayer Leverkusen star Bailey.
Reports by the Daily Mail linked the Toffees with scouting the Jamaican earlier in the season with a view to a potential summer swoop, having proven to be the biggest contributor to the BayArena club’s efforts at the start of the campaign.
It was expected that any club who wished to sign Bailey would have to pay £36m after the Bundesliga outfit snubbed Leeds United’s approaches in the last summer market, while Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United joined Everton in scouting the 23-year-old.
Brands now seeing that he gets that chance at Goodison Park could see the Dutchman hand Ancelotti his new Robben, to whom Bailey has previously been considered as the heir in the Bundesliga. Pace has been noted as one of his strongest assets, having once clocked a sprint speed of 21.4 mph.
The ex-Chelsea winger featured 45 times under Ancelotti at Bayern Munich during the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons, which saw him score 18 goals and offer 15 assists as the Bavarian powerhouse won the Bundesliga title and two German Super Cups.
Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz had also lauded Bailey as an “immense” talent, while Die Werkself’s sporting director Simon Rolfes believes that a move to the right-wing has done him “a lot of good” by playing in a Robben-esque way of cutting inside onto his stronger left foot.
That style saw Bailey strike a wonder goal against Hoffenheim in December, one of 14 goals that the eight-cap speedster has hit in all competitions this term, while offering 10 assists – no Leverkusen player has scored more while only Moussa Diaby (13) has more assists.
It remains to be seen whether Everton’s scouts reported back glowing endorsements of Bailey which will see Brands step forward with a bid this summer, but the Jamaican – who Bosz believes “gets better with every game” – could be the Toffees’ ideal wide option to target.