Reports by Gazzetta dello Sport, via Sport Witness, earlier this week claimed Everton are monitoring Bologna’s sought-after defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, who could emerge as Carlo Ancelotti’s own Virgil Van Dijk if Marcel Brands can seal a deal.
The Toffees are claimed to be keeping track of Tomiyasu’s situation ahead of the summer transfer market, as his services are likely to become available.
Bologna would prefer to retain the 22-year-old but have begun to search for potential replacements, knowing that it will be a challenge to retain the Japan international after his impressive performances under Sinisa Mihajlovic this season.
Bayer Leverkusen have shown a frequent interest in Tomiyasu’s potential as the Bundesliga outfit continue their efforts to bring down the average age of their squad, but they could face competition from AC Milan.
The Rossoneri are believed to have previously lodged a €15m (£13m) offer for the 23-cap centre-half and may return to the negotiating table at the end of the season, with Bologna holding firm at a €20m (£17.5m) asking price.
West Ham and Newcastle United have also previously shown an interest in Tomiyasu due to his ability to play at right-back or in a holding midfield role, and Gazzetta dello Sport noted that it is not out of contention that he moves to the Premier League or the Bundesliga this summer.
Brands meeting Bologna’s valuation and acquiring Tomiyasu ahead of his European suitors could see Everton’s director of football land Ancelotti the Goodison Park natives’ own Van Dijk and reaping similar rewards to their Merseyside neighbours Liverpool.
The 6 ft 2 Bologna enforcer is regarded as one of the Serie A’s best young players as he is technically gifted and can wisely progress play out from the back, but has the awareness to close down attacking channels without rushing into a challenge.
Tomiyasu also prefers to sit back and assess the opposition’s moves before stepping in as the last man and was backed to become a star when signed from Belgian Pro League side Sint-Truidense for €9m (£8m) in 2019.
“He is a complete player and Bologna got a real bargain with Tomiyasu,” former Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni told TuttoMercatoWEB, via quotes shared by Football-Italia, adding: “He’s a good player and was compared to Maya Yoshida, who has been playing in Europe for a decade. He’s got the quality to be a real star.”
Pressure is no issue for Tomiyasu either, but rather a source of excitement for the Fukuoka native, who has aspirations of being a leader.
“Yuto Nagatomo told me that there’s a lot of pressure playing in Italy, but that excites me, as it means the fans are passionate,” he said. “There are organised defences in Serie A and great strikers. I can play as a full-back or in the centre, but my objective either way is to become a leader at the back.”
Tomiyasu would have years ahead of him to become the leader of Ancelotti’s backline if Brands can seal a deal for the Bologna defender, in a move which would seemingly have plenty of upside for a smaller fee to what Everton paid Norwich City for Ben Godfrey (£20m) last year.