Lucas Digne To Remain
Right-back had been the original January priority for the embattled Rafa Benitez. But the Spaniard’s high-profile falling out with Lucas Digne, culminating in his unceremonious dropping from the matchday squad for the win at Arsenal, meant a change of plan.
Addressing Digne’s exclusion, Benitez said: “Normally when you have conversations with players they are private conversations and you have to keep them private.
“The only thing I can say is he’s been training and we have to decide tomorrow if he’s available or not.”
The 28-year-old was finally back on the bench for Sunday’s 3-2 home defeat against Brighton but is still expected to depart this month.
Chelsea, West Ham, Inter Milan, Aston Villa and Newcastle United are all interested with the former needing loan cover for the injured Ben Chilwell.
Nathan Patterson To Shore Up Defence
On the other side of defence, Everton have turned to Rangers right-back Nathan Patterson. The Scotland international, 20, will cost the Toffees an initial £10million and has travelled to Merseyside to undergo a medical.
Should he pass, Patterson will compete with club captain Seamus Coleman and Jonjoe Kenny for the right-back spot.
Attacking Cover Needed
The next priority for Benitez will be to improve the Toffees’ ailing attack. With Dominic Calvert-Lewin only returning for his fourth Premier League appearance of the season in the defeat to Brighton, it has fallen to Salomon Rondon to lead the line for much of the season.
But the former West Bromwich Albion striker, 32, has scored just once in 12 Premier League outings. Picked up on a free transfer after playing under Benitez at Newcastle, the Venezuelan is not the long-term solution for Everton.
However, any signings will have to ensure the Merseysiders remain within Financial Fair Play restrictions. After the excesses of the early years under owner Farhad Moshiri, Everton were forced to tighten their belts in the summer and spent just £1.7million on top scorer Demarai Gray.
Benitez expects ‘two or three’ signings this month but admits it will be difficult to make deals happen this month – for a variety of factors.
He said: “We are working hard. We are trying to find some targets to improve the team. Everybody knows how difficult January is.
“Everybody is a little bit worried about Covid, no-one wants to spend too much money. That is complicated. I am quite confident we will do two or three things.
“We are trying to be sure we have chances to improve. What can (the fans) expect? Two or three players, and players who want to be here.”
Philippe Coutinho Links
If appointing a former Liverpool manager wasn’t controversial enough, Everton have been linked with former Reds attacker Philippe Coutinho.
According to reports, the Catalans have been offered the chance to sign the 29-year-old who cost Barcelona £146million in January 2018. Whether Everton could offer anything near Barca’s asking price – or whether Benitez would be interested in the Brazilian – remains to be seen.
A more cost-effective option to bolster Everton’s attack would be former Porto striker Moussa Marega. The 30-year-old, currently on the books at Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal, is also interesting Newcastle, according to reports in Italy.
For Benitez, these next few weeks could be make or break for his career as Everton boss.
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