Article by Paul Conatzer – @TOFFEEPAUL.com
‘Sources say’ can be the most irritating phrase used in media.
For example, reports from Spain say that Everton and Barcelona have reached an agreement on a price (£28 million) for Colombian central defender Yerry Mina. However, media reports in the UK say nothing concrete has been reached yet.
There’s no doubt that Everton need reinforcements at centre-back. Currently, Everton have an ageing Phil Jagielka, who will turn 35 in mid-August; Michael Keane and Mason Holgate.
New Everton manager Marco Silva has big expectations for the 21-year-old Holgate. However, the England under-21 international has spent much of the pre-season on the sidelines with Achilles tendonitis. Jagielka has been injury-prone with the Everton captain failing to play more than 25 league games in each of the past three seasons.
Strengthening the back four was high on the list for Silva as he took charge of Everton. Everton shipped 58 goals in the League last season as a combination of injuries and a loss of form forced ex-managers Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce were forced to juggle the back four. The 58 goals allowed were the most Everton have allowed for the past five years. The number could have been higher, if not for the form Jordan Pickford between the posts. Pickford cemented his position as England’s top ‘keeper with an outstanding World Cup.
“We need to improve our defensive organisation in some moments – we are working on that and, for sure, in the future, we will improve,” Silva said.
It seems that Mina is Everton’s top target in central defence as a number of players who play the position have moved clubs. Everton were linked with Ben Gibson, who has recently moved from Middlesbrough to Burnley. In June, Everton allowed Argentinean centre-back Ramiro Funes-Mori to move to Villarreal. Funes-Mori had his moments as a Blue, but was unable to lock down a place. Ashley Williams, who had a poor season, was sent on loan to Stoke in the Championship.
Manchester United are also looking for another central defender with Leicester and England star Maguire high on the list. Depending on the source, United are also interested in Mina, Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng and Tottenham’s Toby Aldererweireld. Lyon are also interested in Mina, but would be unable to match Everton wage-wise.
Everton may also move for United’s Marcus Rojo, if Jose Mourinho purchases another central defender.
Silva and Marcel Brand, the Everton director of football, have already moved towards strengthening the defence with the addition of French International Lucas Digne to provide competition and eventually replace Leighton Baines at left back. Baines is another player who has age and injuries catching up with him. Digne knows he’s not going to walk into the Everton first team.
“I know him and everybody I think knows him. We speak together, he’s a very good guy, he said to me ‘welcome’ and he’s so friendly. I think the competition is very good for the team,” Digne said during his introductory press conference.
Digne has also urged Mina to join him at Goodison.
“I hope to see him here but I don’t know,” said Digne. “He’ll choose the best for his career and we will see. I said to him to come. He’s a good player and a good guy.”