The January transfer window is officially open, and for Everton, it means a chance to add some numbers to a squad that’s struggled with injuries since the early weeks of the campaign.
Owner Farhad Moshiri has already publicly promised backing to manager Rafa Benitez, so much so that Director of Football Marcel Brands has gone, and business has been put firmly in the Spaniard’s hands.
He’ll be keen to add to his squad after spending just £1.7m in the summer, but with Financial Fair Play still an issue, he’ll have to be creative to get bodies in the door.
January has always been a tricky window in which to do transfers, with prices often inflated and players uninterested in moving clubs in the middle of the season.
It means Benitez will have work hard to bolster his squad and find the players he thinks can help move Everton forward and enjoy a strong finish to a disappointing few months under his leadership.
The Everton boss spoke about the situation on Friday and stated he expected two or three players to arrive at Finch Farm. Vitaliy Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson have already been announced, but who could be following them through the door, and what’s the situation as the window opens?
With the left-back and right-back spots now strengthened, Benitez is believed to be targeting a new central midfielder and winger. Babu could be the answer to the former.
Everton’s options in central midfield have been lacking all season, a problem that’s caused plenty of issues and something Benitez wants to fix.
A report at the beginning of November indicated that Benitez is a big fan of the Mallorca midfielder and the Toffees ‘want to close’ a deal during the January transfer window.
That was followed by a report from La Razon which stated their ‘intention’ is to pursue a deal, with it made clear the Spanish side were willing to negotiate about the player’s €45m release clause.
The latest on the interest came from his Babu’s home country of Ghana, where it was made clear Everton have ‘intensified’ their pursuit of the midfielder, who was labelled a ‘long-time target’ for Benitez, who had tried to sign him when was manager of Real Madrid.
That’s a longstanding interest, to say the least, and with Everton’s attention now on midfield after securing two new full-backs perhaps Babu is the man they can turn to, something it appears Benitez would be more than happy with.
Hardly an inspiring choice given his injury record in the last few years, but there’s no smoke without fire, and there’s plenty of smoke, albeit not the white kind that Italy loves when it comes to Everton and Ramsey.
Benitez is thought to be keen to add another midfielder to his team, particularly one who can link up with the forward line, and the Welshman fits that when he’s fit. He also has a tonne of Premier League experience, 262 games to be precise, something the Everton boss values highly.
Ramsey was first linked with a move to Goodison back in the summer, but he ended up staying in Italy, and after the rumours went quiet around August, they’ve picked up again this month.
It’s already been stated that the Blues are ‘ready to welcome’ the Juventus midfielder in January, and a move was becoming ‘increasingly likely’.
Since then, there’s been a report from Tuttosport stating that Ramsey can arrive ‘free of charge’, claims Everton have held ‘first contacts’ with his agent, and even Gazzetta Dello Sport making it clear Juventus could pay his wages to get him off the books.
That’s because Ramsey currently earns €7.5m a year, a figure the Italian giants desperately want to get rid of, even if they can only reduce it by half.
Such a figure would still be high for Everton given their finances, but the prospect of a free transfer for an experienced player who fills the manager’s requirements and whose wages would mostly be covered by his former club may prove very tempting indeed.
When you’ve hired a former Liverpool manager, and one most fans were vehemently against at that, signing a former Reds star isn’t as ridiculous a notion as it once was. Step forward, Philippe Coutinho.
Barcelona are desperate to get rid of the Brazilian, who they now see as a huge anchor tying them to a past they want to move away from as quickly as possible.
His huge wage packet is a big hindrance to their plans to give Xavi more signings this month, and Everton have been named among his potential destinations.
Mundo Deportivo reported on the 20th of December that his agent, Kia Joorabchian, was handling offers from Everton and Newcastle for his client, although neither had taken a ‘definitive step’.
They followed that up with a report stating Everton had ‘made an approach’, with Sport then explaining that the Toffees were the ‘best placed’ to secure his signature.
The latest from Spain came on the 30th, where it was stated Everton needed to convince the Brazilian midfielder to return to Merseyside, something we’re sure will go down well with their fans.
That same report stated Joorabchian needed to find a club who could cover some of Coutinho’s wages, even if he were arriving on a loan deal, which is the most likely scenario at this point.
It’s hard to imagine Everton being able to do that given their finances and the money Coutinho currently earns, but Joorabchian is known to have Farhad Moshiri’s ear, so that could play a part in proceedings.
The Toffees do have a good relationship with Barcelona after deals for Andre Gomes, Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina in the past, while there is a need for a creative midfielder following James Rodriguez’s departure.
The money they saved on his wages could potentially facilitate a deal for Coutinho, but negotiations are likely to be drawn out before a deal that suits both clubs can be found.