Rafa Benitez has barely set foot inside Goodison Park but the incoming Everton manager is already busy on the transfer front.
The Toffees are yet to flex their financial muscles in the window with no manager at the helm but that doesn’t mean that Marcel Brands and co haven’t been busy behind the scenes.
According to the print version of Portuguese outlet Record (via Sportslens) Newcastle are interested in signing Sporting midfielder Matheus Nunes.
However, Everton are also in the race to sign the 22-year-old and are now expected to sign him.
A deal could be worth as much as €20m (£17m) with Everton closing in on their first acquisition of the Benitez era.
If you focus on Nunes’ statistics then it doesn’t exactly paint a very vibrant picture.
The young midfielder contributed to five goals in the top-flight of Portugal as Sporting won the league but he appeared from the bench on 19 occasions.
As a result, he made 0.6 tackles and 0.4 interceptions per game, while registering just 0.5 shots and 0.2 key passes a match.
Those numbers put him well below other midfielders already at Goodison Park with Abdoulaye Dourcoure, Tom Davies, Andre Gomes and Allan more productive in the final third.
Meanwhile, only Davies registered attacking statistics below Nunes.
However, his game is about a lot more than that. What the Sporting gem brings to the table is relentless energy, jaw-dropping speed and the ability to carry the ball forward.
A glowing review from close friend and former teammate Goncalo Santos reveals what he’d add to the side.
“It’s unbelievable when he has the ball at his feet. Nobody can catch him; it’s impossible because he’s too fast,” Santos told the Liverpool Echo.
He added: “Matheus is a box-to-box player. He’s not so strong like midfielders in the Premier League but he’s very fast. He’s very good with the ball because he is a Brazilian boy.”
But what player at Everton is he similar to? Santos continued: “If you compare him, he is similar to Doucoure; he is physical, he runs so much but Matheus has more quality with the ball. He makes better decisions, has better passing, better control and he understands when he needs to slow the game down.”
Despite the initial statistics proving otherwise, this suggests that the Brazilian could actually be an upgrade for Benitez next term.
Everton aren’t the quickest of teams from a central area so Nunes could get the team up the pitch in a swifter fashion, enabling them to be more devastating and clinical on the counter-attack.