Carlo Ancelotti has insisted he will be sticking by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford but confirmed Everton are considering signing a new midfielder in the January transfer window.
Pickford has come under fire for his performances in recent weeks but remains one of the Premier League’s most valuable goalkeepers — as well as Gareth Southgate’s number one pick for England.
And the newly appointed Everton boss has affirmed his backing of the 25-year-old, telling reporters at a press conference: “I have a great goalkeeper and we are not looking for a goalkeeper.”
However, he did admit the Toffees are looking for “possibilities” to thicken out his playing squad, adding: “We are looking to see if there is some possibility to improve our squad.
“I have the full support of the owner, board and director of football.”
Everton have particularly suffered in midfield with Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin sustaining long-term injuries and Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin enduring poor runs of form.
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When asked whether or not he was considering midfield reinforcements, Ancelotti coyly replied: “Maybe.”
Everton’s dream, realistic and wildcard midfield options
Such has been Everton’s dilemma in midfield this season, even centre-back Mason Holgate has had to fill in there at various points.
As a result, the Toffees are being linked with a number of options in the middle, with some more outlandish or exciting prospects than others.
So, let’s take a look at their dream, realistic and wildcard options:
- Dream – James Rodriguez: The Colombia international hasn’t quite hit the world-class heights expected of him following his 2014 World Cup Golden Boot-winning campaign, but the fact remains he’s a supreme playmaker with ultimate pedigree, having turned out for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich – under Ancelotti. Rodriguez remains a firm favourite of the Italian’s and, according to William Hill, Everton are favourites (Evens) to sign him in the January window. Rodriguez would provide all the same ball-playing brilliance as Sigurdsson, but he offers a substantially more mobile and dynamic option.
- Realistic – Nabil Bentaleb: According to The Times, Everton are one of a number of clubs to be “offered” former Spurs midfielder Nabil Bentaleb. The 25-year-old Algeria international has been plying his trade with Bundesliga side FC Schalke since 2016, making almost 100 appearances for the club since. However, apparent “unprofessional behaviour” and failing to turn up for German lessons has led to him falling out of the first-team and Schalke are now looking for a quick sale to get Bentaleb off their hands. If Everton could keep him happy, Bentaleb would certainly offer a well-rounded option in midfield with his ability to pick a pass and sniff out an interception, while Schalke’s willingness to get rid means he’ll come at a reasonable price.
- Wildcard – Marouane Fellaini: Marouane Fellaini moved to Shandong Luneng in January 2019 but the introduction of a salary cap by the Chinese FA means he will have to take a 75 per cent pay cut if he wishes to remain there. William Hill rate Everton’s chances of re-signing their former bulldozer at 16/1, quite how supporters would feel about that is anyone’s guess. Besides, if they’re to even have a chance of bringing Fellaini “home”, they’d have to be the villain in the love affair between the Belgian and David Moyes who, according to Sky Sports, is looking to take him to West Ham. If that happened, it’d be the third club the two have shared time at.
*Odds provided by William Hill, Squawka’s partner for the 2020 January transfer window. You have to be 18+ to gamble. For more information, go to BeGambleAware.org