One of the biggest areas of concern heading into the new campaign for Everton is in defence.
The Toffees ended last season with the third-worst defensive record in the Premier League’s top ten. With that in mind, it’s hardly a surprise they failed to usurp some of the best team in England.
One player who Everton have targetted relentlessly throughout the summer window is Denzel Dumfries. The Dutch full-back lit up Euro 2020 by scoring twice from defence and he now finds himself with a long list of suitors.
Everton are reportedly his next destination but a move is far from certain until we see the robust full-back posing with the blue shirt.
He would be an exceptional signing for the Toffees, combining pace and power with an unrelenting desire to burst into the final third.
The Netherlands gem is not your archetypal defender and that’s precisely why many clubs, including Bayern Munich, have also shown an interest.
If a move for Dumfries falls through, then Rafa Benitez should look no further than Lille defender Zeki Celik.
The right-back was tremendous under former Everton manager target Christophe Galtier last season as his side capped a remarkable title-winning campaign. In pipping PSG to the Ligue 1 crown, the £18m-rated Celik was undeniably one of the most impressive full-backs in the division.
Speaking to Football Transfer Tavern about the Turk recently Adam White of Get French Football News said: “He has been great for Lille and been so consistent. He is great at both ends of the pitch, very accurate with his crossing and is good defensively.
“Seamus Coleman is an extremely underrated player and has been for a decade. It would be a step up to the Premier League for Celik, which is always a difficult one, but he is certainly talented enough to slot into that role at Everton.”
Coleman’s contract expires in a year’s time so it certainly makes sense for Benitez to dip his toes into the market to uncover a potential replacement.
However, Celik could actually be more in the mould of Ben Godfrey, a player who can feature across the back four, primarily at centre-back and right-back.
The Lille ace has featured in both positions already in his career and looks up to Kyle Walker, a player with similar positional sense. Celik once commented: “I’ve been watching him (Walker) since he played in Tottenham. Sometimes Guardiola also plays him as a centre-back – something I have done myself.”
Last season, the Turkey international produced 2.5 tackles per game, which for context was more than any Everton player besides Allan. Celik is also an incredibly hard-working player and keen to play on the front foot, just as Godfrey does.
For Ligue 1 right-backs over the last year, he ranks in the 87th percentile for progressive passes while he sits in the 91st percentile for passes into the final third according to FB Ref. Furthermore, he is in the 88th percentile for successful pressures and ranks at 98% for pressures in the middle third of the pitch.
With that in mind, he would be an exquisite capture by Benitez and Marcel Brands.