Marcel Brands can boost Everton’s push for Champions League qualification with a January swoop for Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha amid links to AC Milan.
According to The Sun, the Rossoneri are chasing a winter deal for Zaha to move to the San Siro as they believe the Ivory Coast winger can help seal their first Serie A title in 10 years.
Milan sit a point clear of rivals Inter at the top of the Italian top-flight as the sole remaining undefeated side after 14 games, and feel Zaha is the missing piece of Stefano Pioli’s puzzle as he nears a career-best haul in front of goal.
Zaha is just two efforts shy of his career-high 10 goals penned in 2018/19 having scored eight times in just 14 matches, while providing two assists despite often being starved of service after switching to a more central role at Selhurst Park.
His adaptation to the position has impressed Milan chiefs, who believe the 28-year-old is entering into his prime years and would be able to contribute immediately should a deal be secured.
Manchester United and Chelsea were linked with a move for Zaha in the summer with Crystal Palace braced to lose the £130,000-per-week wizard in a cut-priced £30m deal, having rebuffed interest from Everton in 2019 after demanding at least £100m.
Everton have rarely dabbled in the January window since appointing Brands as the club’s Director of Football, with the sum of less than £1m spent on Jarrad Branthwaite last January the only funds sanctioned on winter reinforcements since 2018.
But a change in approach to sign the Zaha in the New Year could see Brands help boost Ancelotti’s push to see Everton qualify for the Champions League, with the Toffees facing a huge dilemma over their mid-season dealings as they sit inside the top-four after 15 games.
“Will they smell something and think if we put a bit of money into this, we could actually do something really great this season for Everton,” Rio Ferdinand said on his YouTube channel.
“That is the conundrum they are in. ‘Do we go for it, do we spend a bit more money and invest or do we say we are going to go with what we’ve got’ because they are picking up injuries, that’s the problem. It’s not a squad with huge depth.”
Everton finally won a Premier League fixture while without Richarlison on Saturday with a nervy 1-0 win over Sheffield United, having previously failed to claim all three points when without the £50m winger since his arrival in 2018.
Ancelotti previously described his need for Richarlison alternatives as an “impossible” task from those already at the club, too, which Zaha would solve, while offering the Italian an option who can help ease the burden on top-scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The 23-year-old has scored 11 of Everton’s 26 Premier League goals this term and leads the way for shots taken (43) and on-target efforts (24), while Richarlison (13) and James Rodriguez (10) are the sole additional Toffees players to have found the mark more than four times, per WhoScored.
Zaha, meanwhile, is averaging 1.6 shots per game, has found the net eight times and missed three big chances to score, created three big chances for Palace to score from 1.0 key balls a game and wins 5.3 ground duels over his 14 top-flight outings this season, per SofaScore.
It remains to be seen how much the Eagles demand for Zaha in January should Milan or a rival suitor step forward, but there is no doubt in the impact he could bring to Goodison Park.