Everton have been linked with a move for Joao Mario, and while the Portuguese international might not set the world alight immediately he would be a very smart signing for Marco Silva.
The versatile Portuguese star has been heavily linked with a move to the Hammers after spending the second half of last season on loan there, but the report claims both Everton and Bournemouth are “probing” about a deal.
Inter Milan are expected to offload the 25 year-old, but “the evaluation remains high” claims the Italian report, with the San Siro club expected to hold out for around €25m (£22m).
West Ham are of course on the hunt for a bit more attacking flair and impetus after the injury to Manuel Lanzini, so it’s no surprise they’re chasing a permanent deal for Mario after he played an important role in keeping the Hammers up last season.
Everton are expected to make several first team changes under the guidance of Silva and new director of football Marcel Brands, and Mario’s physicality and ability to play in multiple positions would be a huge boost for the Toffees.
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Aforementioned, Mario’s real strength is his versatility. The 25 year-old, valued at £22.5m by Transfermarkt, can play anywhere through the middle of the park from defensive midfield all the way up to a number ten, and is also effective from either flank.
The 40-cap star has a sort of wiry strength that allows him to weave through opposition players in a manner similar to Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele, and would give Everton loads of extra drive and energy in midfield, something they were sorely lacking last season.
While he didn’t rack up lots of assists last season, the Euro 2016 winner is a great passer, especially in the final third, averaging well over one key pass per game both for Inter Milan and West Ham last season.
One area he does need to improve is his end product, as he has grabbed just five goals in his last 57 league appearances across Italy and England. He does have a Lampard-like ability to pop up in dangerous positions in and around the box, so if he can find his finishing touch make sure to get him in your fantasy team.
If he performs like he has in the last couple of seasons, Mario would bring guts, energy and some excellent passing to Everton’s midfield. However, if the 25 year-old can up his game as he enters his prime and find more goals, he could just be one of the best signings the Toffees have made in years.
So, Everton fans, would you like to see a swoop for Joao Mario? Is he worth £22m? Let us know your thoughts by voting in the poll below…