Reports by Todo Fichajes earlier this week claimed Everton are keeping tabs on Martin Braithwaite’s situation at FC Barcelona, as well as that of Miralem Pjanic, but Marcel Brands must block a move for the striker to head to Goodison Park this summer.
The Toffees are understood to be eying a raid on the Camp Nou to improve Carlo Ancelotti’s squad, having built a strong relationship with the European giants through their deals to sign a string of the Catalan natives’ outcasts in Andre Gomes, Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne.
Braithwaite completed a controversial €18m (£15m) move to Barca last February, having been given permission by La Liga to leave CD Leganes outside of the winter market after injury ruled Ousmane Dembele out of action for six months.
Braithwaite has faced uncertainty over his long-term future at the Camp Nou ever since his arrival, despite having a €300m (£251m) release clause in his four-year contract, as Barcelona made the 29-year-old available for a transfer last summer to recover the fee they paid.
Reports by Sport claimed West Ham United approached Barca to open negotiations over the 46-cap Denmark international in the off-season but baulked at the £15m asking price, and again snubbed a deal at £13mduring the recent winter market.
The Irons were not alone in probing Braithwaite’s situation in January with West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United also sounding out his availability, despite the £105,000-per-week attacker having no interest in leaving Catalunya.
Everton now seem to be giving Braithwaite yet another route back to England after his two years on the books at Middlesbrough, where he only scored nine goals in 40 games across all competitions.
Braithwaite found some form in front of the net with Leganes after a permanent move to the Estadio Municipal de Butarque in 2019 following an initial loan spell, netting six goals in 24 La Liga fixtures before moving to the Camp Nou where he has three goals in 34 league games to date.
It remains to be seen how highly Barcelona intend to value Braithwaite in the upcoming summer market, when his services are again expected to be touted around as new President Joan Laporta strives to begin reducing the club’s debt of more than €1.1bn (£942m).
But, regardless of Barcelona’s asking price, Brands must step in and block any deal for Everton to sign Braithwaite at the end of the season, as the Danish dud – with a TransferMarkt valuation of £8m – will not improve Ancelotti’s options at all.
The 29-year-old rarely fashions chances to score when on the field with just 0.7 shots a game, and he rarely creates chances for his teammates with a mere 0.5 key passes from a woefully low nine accurate passes a game, per SofaScore.
Those efforts have also seen Braithwaite miss seven clear-cut chances to find the back of the net, which is the seventh-most across the entire Spanish top-flight, despite only playing an average of 46 minutes a game having started just 11 of his 23 outings to date.
Convert Braithwaite’s record into shots per 90 minutes and his average increases to 1.7 with 0.6 on target, per WhoScored, which would be enough to rank fifth at Everton for total attempts but with 0.9 fewer than Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the Premier League, who has provided 14 of his side’s 40 goals.
But they will not improve with a deal for Braithwaite, even if Koeman has praised the attacker as he has “worked hard” to earn his chances to feature at the Camp Nou this term.
AND in other news, Carlo Ancelotti has set his eyes on bringing a £59m flop to Everton…