According to the Basque outlet Noticias de Gipuzkoa, Everton are set to do battle with Merseyside rivals Liverpool over the signature of Real Sociedad defender Diego Llorente, who is attracting interest from afar thanks to his fine performances in La Liga.
Well, the Toffees are keen to sign the Spanish international to bolster their backline for next season, but it will come at some cost. The report claims Llorente has a £43m release clause written into his contract with the Basque side, and city rivals Liverpool are said to be readying a £25m offer for the 25-year-old’s services.
Llorente, formerly of Real Madrid, has already racked up 70 La Liga appearances and has become a Spanish international due to his form, and seems to be improving every season.
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The centre-back is also a versatile player, who can play capably in a defensive midfield position thanks to his tactical intelligence and his composure on the ball.
One would assume that Chelsea will not sanction the departure of Kurt Zouma whilst they are under a transfer ban, so that leaves Marco Silva with just Phil Jagielka, Yerry Mina and Michael Keane as his options in defence.
Should the Toffees win the race for Llorente, it is likely that he would go straight into the starting lineup given the amount that he looks set to cost – and Everton could end up with three centre-backs who cost upwards of £25m at the club, with Mina costing £27m last summer whilst almost £30m was spent on Keane.
Additionally, Silva often deploys a four-man backline with two centre-halves, so one of Mina or Keane could potentially be dropped to the bench to accommodate Llorente.
Both of the aforementioned Toffees defenders cost a fair bit of money, but it’s Mina who has struggled to justify his transfer fee the most. He’s made just 12 appearances for the Toffees since his summer arrival, largely due to injuries, and has struggled to impress when given the chance.
Keane, meanwhile, despite a tough debut season himself has shown in patches that he can become a solid long-term investment for the Merseysiders.