Everton believe they have secured a significant coup with Lille’s Belgium international Amadou Onana set to become their biggest signing of the summer – and the club hopes he will be followed by at least two more incomings.
The Toffees believe they will land Onana and former midfielder Idrissa Gueye before moving onto a striker signing – with Armando Broja of Chelsea back in their sights.
It is a long overdue blast of positivity for Everton and their supporters after Dominic Calvert-Lewin suffered a freak training ground injury which will rule him out for six weeks.
Dele Alli could be deployed as a false nine for their opening game against Chelsea as Salomon Rondon is suspended and young forward Ellis Simms is on loan at Sunderland.
It is far from ideal but Everton’s big summer priority was to reshape a midfield that they felt was far too easily bypassed last season. Gueye is a holding midfielder who is full of energy and able to act as a buffer for the back four, while Onana is a fine prospect who has recently been capped by Belgium.
If both are signed – and of understands the club are optimistic – that will represent a big tick next to one of Everton’s biggest close season priorities.
“I wouldn’t want to speak about individual players but we’re aware of the areas we want to strengthen,” Lampard said on Thursday when he was asked about striker signings.
Indeed the Toffees are re-assessing their forward options after the significant blow of losing Calvert-Lewin for the August programme.
A striker was always on the radar for this close season but moves are now being accelerated in the wake of the Calvert-Lewin injury. Rondon is the only other striker option, with the club having loaned Ellis Simms to Sunderland.
They had decided against moving for Michy Batshuayi but whether they re-evaluate that remains to be seen – but they also retain an interest in Broja, the Chelsea forward whose future is uncertain at Stamford Bridge.
Man City offered Benfica full-back
Manchester City are yet to decide whether to move for another senior left-back after their move for Marc Cucurella was rejected by Chelsea.
Brighton have been at pains to point out they are yet to agree a deal for the Spanish left-back. But an agreement is expected to be struck in the next few days, leaving months of Manchester City’s preparatory work wasted.
Nor revealed by of last week, Benfica’s Alejandro Grimaldo has been offered to Manchester City and would be available as a ready-made replacement.
He would cost around £15m but it is understood that City have not made a definitive decision on whether to move on from Cucurella, or whether they will go for the experienced Grimaldo.
Stuttgart’s Borna Sosa is another target, but City could still decide to go into the season with Nathan Ake and Joao Cancelo as senior left-backs, with Josh Wilson-Esbrand an alternative.
Newcastle not ready to walk away from Maddison move yet
Newcastle United retain their interest in James Maddison – for now – despite Leicester not encouraging bids for their key playmaker.
Sources told of that Newcastle won’t go over their valuation for key targets this summer after their initial offers to Leicester were rejected. A third bid has yet to materialize but sources haven’t ruled it out.
They remain interested in him and RB Salzburg’s Benjamin Sesko but have seen prices soar for their top targets. Leicester have no interest in a structured deal, which is how Newcastle have been trying to operate this summer to stay within financial fair play rules.
“We are still looking for one or two players who can make a difference for us. We’ll never stop until the window stops to add to the group,” Eddie Howe said earlier this week.
“The pool of players we’re looking at is quite small, it’s not a huge amount of names which is why the deals have become difficult.”
Ba’s ownership move
Former Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham striker Demba Ba has moved into club ownership a year after retiring, buying Senegalese second tier side Amitie FC.
Based in Thies, Senegal’s third largest city, they finished 12thth in Ligue 2 last season but Ba intends to launch a rebrand of the club with the intention of turning it into a base for the best young Senegalese talent and a hothouse for players who can move into European football.
The former Newcastle striker intends to use his connections in French and English football to help the best prospects make the move from the domestic game in Senegal into France and possibly the English game, if players qualify through Brexit rules.
He told of: “We are going to build a team that will be very successful this year. The idea is to develop players and bring them into the English market where football is best.
“There is some serious talent in the squad – 60% of them are younger players who are really top talents.
“We are particularly interested in the younger players – we have some 15-19 year olds in the squad that would make you go ‘wow’. I have some future African footballer of the year winners in there, I’m convinced of that.”
There is an established route for young players to move from Senegalese football into French football, which makes the market an interesting one to plant a flag in. Ba took advice from consultants before deciding to buy the club, which is set for significant investment to improve on last season’s disappointing finish.
Ba will be the most high-profile professional footballer to move into the domestic game in the country he represented 22 times.