Reports by Il Resto del Carlino, via Sport Witness, earlier this week claimed Everton are one of several Premier League sides eying a summer swoop for Bologna FC 1909 midfielder Mattias Svanberg, who can offer Carlo Ancelotti an off-season upgrade on Andre Gomes.
It is thought that the Toffees have begun showing a keen interest in the 22-year-old of late, but are joined by Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton in the race for his signature.
Bologna are eager to retain the Sweden international and are currently in talks over a new contract, with his £15,000-per-week deal expiring in 2023, but would be expected to present lesser terms than the English sides tracking Svanberg’s development.
Svanberg’s agent is not believed to be positive on the progress of the negotiations with the Rossoblu, for whom the central midfielder has started 18 games for in 25 appearances across all competitions this season.
The same Italian paper, local to the Bologna region, had claimed on Tuesday that Leicester City were also closely monitoring Svanberg’s situation at the Renato Dall’Ara Stadium, while AC Milan offered €15m (£13m) for his services in January.
But Bologna’s Technical Director Walter Sabatini rubbished claims that the Rossoneri were contending for his player’s signature during the winter market, as club President Joey Saputo had ruled out selling any prized asset.
“Bologna don’t want to sell him, and Milan have never asked information about him,” Sabatini told Sky Sport, via quotes by Football-Italia. “There are many clubs interested, but not Milan. Bologna’s best players are not for sale, it is a precise indication of President Saputo.”
Bologna paid Svanberg’s academy side Malmo FF €5.5m (£4.5m) for his services in 2018 but feel he has more than tripled his value in the years since, as the four-cap midfielder has established himself as integral part of head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic’s plans.
Only Roberto Soriano (9 scored, 5 assisted), Musa Barrow (6 goals, 6 assists) and Riccardo Orsolini (4 goals, 3 assists) have contributed toward more goals for Bologna in the Serie A this season than Svanberg (3 goals, 2 assists).
Whether Everton are interested in testing Bologna’s resolve at the end of the season and striving to beat the emerging Premier League battle for Svanberg remains to be seen, but Marcel Brands reaching an agreement for the Swedish star could see the Blues’ Director of Football acquire Ancelotti an upgrade on Gomes.
Ancelotti has only fielded Gomes in the starting line-up for 14 of Everton’s 28 Premier League fixtures this season and has often seen the Portuguese maestro prove unable to deliver consistent performances.
The Italian tactician lauded Gomes as his Man of the Match after an impressive performance at Leeds United in February but was almost let down by the red card waiting to happen in last month’s Merseyside derby win over Liverpool.
Svanberg, who former AC Milan defender Alessandro Costacurta claims “can see vertically like few others”, would be an expected upgrade, having often won possession back more successfully in the Serie A this term than Gomes has in the Premier League.
The Swedish ace also takes 1.3 more shots per game, is dispossessed less (0.5 to 1.3) and takes fewer unsuccessful touches (0.6 to 1.3), though Everton may have to convince Svanberg of a move to England as he expressed delight with the connections with Milan.
“I approached Milan? It is satisfying,” he told Swedish media, via quotes by Calciomercato, last month. “It’s rewarding when you do something good, but the fact that this has been talked about now doesn’t mean much.
“The most important thing for me is to continue playing, then at the end of the season, we will see what opportunities and alternatives I have. Now, I play a lot and I feel good in Bologna, these are the things I want.”
If they can convince him to move to Merseyside instead of Milan, The Blues will be getting a very fine player.