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Nikola Maksimovic: Everton target to leave SSC Napoli as free agent this summer

Reports by Arena Napoli earlier this week claimed that Nikola Maksimovic is close to agreeing to leave Serie A side SSC Napoli as a free agent this summer, which could throw Yerry Mina’s long-term Everton future into further doubt.

Carlo Ancelotti has recently been claimed to be keen on a reunion with Maksimovic, with Il Mattino suggesting that the Italian tactician was monitoring the Serbian centre-half’s situation during the winter transfer window.

Napoli demanded around €10m (£8.5m) to part with the 29-year-old as West Ham United and Fulham were also thought to be keen, while Sky Sports suggested Liverpool as another potential destination before the Reds struck a deal to sign FC Schalke 04’s Ozan Kabak on loan.

Should Everton sign Napoli's Maksimovic?

Yes, he'd be an upgrade

Yes, he'd be an upgrade

No, he isn't good enough

No, he isn't good enough

Maksimovic’s agent, Fali Ramadani, was due in Naples earlier this week to hold crunch talks with his client over the defender’s long-term future, with it expected that the Serbian will soon agree to leave the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium once his contract expires in June.

The £13.5m-rated brute has seen his game time reduced under Gennaro Gattuso this season, starting in just nine of his 14 Serie A appearances, despite being a constant fixture of the Napoli backline following a hamstring injury last term.

Maksimovic was a bit-part player in Ancelotti’s plans during the Everton head coach’s time in charge of Gli Azzurri, starting in 23 of his 25 appearances from a possible 47 games in the Italian top-flight.

Ancelotti was a fan of what the 25-cap enforcer had to offer nonetheless, having described Maksimovic as being a player without any clear and obvious faults.

“He has no problems,” the former Chelsea boss said, via quotes by Tutto Napoli. “I am satisfied, he is an excellent defender, complete elastic, fast, he can play both centre-right and centre-left, perhaps he fits better on the centre-right for habits and characteristics.”

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If Ancelotti pushes to secure a reunion with Maksimovic once he becomes a free agent, it could throw Mina’s long-term Everton future into further doubt, following claims by the Daily Mail that the Colombian could be sold this summer.

The Toffees boss is not believed to have found his ideal defensive partnership, but has often persisted with Michael Keane and Ben Godfrey occupying central roles since losing Mina to a calf injury against Manchester City last month.

Everton’s 3-1 loss to the Citizens marked Mina’s 19th start from 23 possible Premier League games, having only been left out sparingly amid Everton’s quest for European football.

Over those outings, the £120,000-per-week titan – notably Everton’s joint-highest earner – has offered fewer successful (1) and attempted tackles (1.2) than Godfrey (1.8/1.9) and Mason Holgate (3/3.8), for the third-most among Ancelotti’s four current centre-half options, per WhoScored.

Mina also provides fewer interceptions (1.1) than Keane (1.5) and Holgate (1.4) and fewer accurate passes (56.2) than the two Englishmen (59.6 and 61.8, respectively).

Maksimovic, meanwhile, offers Napoli one successful tackle from 1.6 attempts, plus 1.4 interceptions and 55.6 passes per game over his 14 Serie A outings to date.

The gap between the Serbian and Mina may not be large, but Everton’s interest in alternative centre-half options and doubt in the Colombian’s future could see Ancelotti re-consider a reunion for the soon-to-be free-agent this summer.

AND in other news, Everton eye a £22.5m-rated speedster who is “hungry for success”

Article title: Nikola Maksimovic: Everton target to leave SSC Napoli as free agent this summer

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