Everton have had an official working hard in Portugal over the past week or so.
According to A Bola, the Toffees had someone watch Moreirense draw 1-1 with Maritimo on Saturday, which isn’t exactly the most exciting match-up of clubs for transfer window shopping.
Then on Monday Everton had someone at Estoril 0 Portimonense 0, which is also less than inspiring.
Much more interesting is Everton’s recent Benfica scouting. The Premier League club had someone watch the Lisbon side against Setubal on November 26th, Porto on December 1st, and then last night against FC Basel.
Hopefully, from an exciting transfer perspective, the other two matches were just filling in the time.
With Steve Walsh’s transfer head turned towards Portugal, not for the first time, and specifically towards Benfica, there was fear, from us at least, Everton may be thinking about spending a big fee on Raul Jimenez after summer links.
In the summer it was stated Everton offered €45m for the Mexican striker, but Benfica wanted €50m. Crazy figures.
Starting 1 league game this season, Jimenez has also had 11 substitute appearances in Liga NOS, but 0 goals. With Benfica’s match against Basel being a dead rubber, it gave a chance for fringe players to be used, so the Mexican looked primed for an opportunity.
But he didn’t start, and he didn’t even get off the bench, and that surely has to be the final message Everton need to stop them paying a big fee for the 26 year old.
Everton were also linked with Benfica midfielder Andreas Samaris during the summer transfer window, and he got a rare start, but the claims have never been convincing.
So, if one assumes Everton are keen on a Benfica player, and that’s a fair assumption, and it’s not Jimenez or Samaris, then who is it?
Lisandro Lopez is a fringe player who got a run out last night. The 28 year old Argentine defender is likely available in January, and in November his agent told Sport Witness there’d been approaches from England.
Staying at the back, Andre Almeida is a regular this season and has played in the three games Everton watched. Against Setubal he was truly excellent at right back, scoring a goal and adding an assist in a 6-0 victory.
The 27 year old can play both fullback positions and also perform a defensive role in midfield, but he extended his contract in August and wouldn’t be cheap.
If Everton fancy a left back, and a lot of the club’s fans certainly do, then Alex Grimaldo could be an option. Moving from Barcelona with great hopes attached in 2016, the 22 year old’s progress has been interrupted by injury.
He played in the games against Setubal and Porto, so Everton will have had a look.
Grimaldo still has a high stock which perhaps his most recent years don’t justify, but he’s still a youngster and full of talent. Linked with huge money moves previously, if Everton wanted to take a punt in January then something over €20-25m could be worth a try, with the Portuguese media already making noises about Benfica needing sales.
It’s just an idea, and Grimaldo would perhaps be the most popular option among Everton fans.
Manchester United have been linked recently, but, judging by the Luke-Shaw-Plan, Jose Mourinho may eat Grimaldo alive at this stage in the player’s career.