Reports from Spain earlier this week claimed that Carlo Ancelotti is eager to exploit Everton’s relationship with FC Barcelona to help him sign Miralem Pjanic in the summer, but the Toffees boss must avoid striking a deal for the Bosnian midfielder.
It is claimed that Ancelotti wants to maximise the relationship that Everton have built with the Camp Nou natives in recent years, one which has seen Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes ditch the La Liga giants for life on Merseyside.
Pjanic could be the next in line to join that group after struggling to establish himself in Catalunya since leaving Juventus last year, with Ronald Koeman often leaving the 30-year-old on the bench such has been the disdain for his performances.
Koeman is thought to have had high hopes for Pjanic having arrived after his €65m (£59m) arrival and the €72m (£66m) sale of Arthur to Juventus in June, but the 98-cap international has only started 13 of his 28 appearances in all competitions.
Pjanic is still seen to have his admirers around Europe and is not expected to struggle to find a new home in the off-season, with Everton one side who could potentially sign him.
It is suggested that the Blues may enquire into signing Pjanic on loan for the 2021/22 campaign with an option to buy the midfielder, who now has a TransferMarkt valuation of just £36m, in the following summer window.
Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur may also be in the mix for the £271,000-per-week talent as Jose Mourinho likes Pjanic a lot, though Barcelona are noted to favour a deal with Everton due to the two club’s shared relationship.
But Ancelotti should not explore the requirements Barcelona are bound to request to send Pjanic out on loan for next season, as the four-time Serie A winner would not be expected to improve the Goodison Park ranks sufficiently enough to make a move worthwhile.
Koeman has frequently opted to overlook Pjanic this season as the former Toffees boss has grown serious concerns over the Bosnian’s abilities, noting last month via quotes by FC Barcelona Noticias: “Miralem has to improve the rhythm of the ball [and] know his position.”
Pjanic’s struggles to adapt to Koeman’s demands, and the resulting lack of game time, have seen the 30-year-old grow frustrated at the Camp Nou, and question why he has only started three of his seven La Liga appearances from 11 available games since the turn of the year.
“I have played at all the clubs I’ve been at and with all the coaches I’ve had. A situation like this has never happened to me. Of course, it’s not easy, I accept it with great difficulty,” he told Telefoot last month.
“I don’t have the exact reasons why I’ve not had the playing time I expected. I keep working and you have to respect the decisions that are taken, even if you don’t agree. I want to leave my mark at this club.”
That mark has so far been one of a player who Marca note ‘seems to be getting further, not closer, from where Barcelona need him to be,’ as Pjanic struggles to find any consistency with his performances or minutes on the field.
His maiden year at the Camp Nou started on the wrong foot, too, with Sport reporting in October that he was ‘two steps behind his teammates in training’ and was ‘still far from optimal physical shape’ despite more than a months’ worth of sessions, as he struggled to match the intensity shown by his new teammates.
With the Premier League often touted to have higher physical demands on players than La Liga, we would expect to see Pjanic struggle if Everton were to make a move to sign the midfielder this summer and as such, they must not explore what is bound to be an expensive deal.