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Everton set for double striker blow

Roberto Martinez may miss out of two of his striking targets after it emerged both Michy Batshuayi and Tom Ince are the subject of rival bids.

Ross Kinnaird

Blackpool forward Ince is a free agent in the summer and so can open talks with prospective clubs now.

He met with Swansea boss Michael Laudrup last week before holding talks with Martinez over a possible switch to Goodison a few days later.

Despite being out of contract in the summer Ince would still command what could be a substantial fee, set at tribunal, as he is under-23.

However, those rules do not apply if the former Liverpool youngster chose to move abroad, meaning Blackpool would receive a low 'development' fee, possibly as little as £150,000.

That would put Ligue 1 side Monaco, who are rumoured to keen on signing the player, in pole position.

Reports on Friday suggest Ince's dad, Paul, held talks with Monaco representatives in London this week

Free transfers are highly lucrative for players as they will often seek inflated wages and/or signing on fees from clubs, given they are not forking out for a transfer fee.

The prospect of living it up in Monte Carlo must also be a big draw, while the principality's tax laws could also mean Ince will be earning far more than he would at home.

Taking my Everton hat off for a second and the prospect of an English player experiencing a top foreign league is a refreshing one and would only benefit the player and - potentially – the national team.

From an Everton perspective though it would be a huge disappointment as Ince is an exciting versatile forward who is available for a knock down fee.

The one glimmer of hope could be the fact Ince snubbed a move to Cardiff last year as he wanted to stay in the north-west of England. Though, again, as lovely as Merseyside is, it aint Monaco!

To make things worse for Everton it is being reported that Portuguese side Benfica have made an approach to Standard Liege for striker Michy Batshuayi.

The 20-year-old Belgian has been heavily linked to Goodison this January as a replacement for Nikica Jelavic.

The powerful striker has a £7million release clause in his contract but Everton are allegedly reluctant to pay the fee upfront, preferring to pay in installments.

Benfica appear ready to take advantage of that hesitation by launching a rival bid for the player.

Benfica, don’t forget, are flush with cash following the sale of Nemanja Matic to Chelsea so would have little hesitation in paying the full fee up front.

Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur claims on Twitter that the two clubs have begun discussions over a deal but the player’s agent has yet to be approached.

Therefore this saga could well depend on the player himself – if  Batshuayi wants to move to Everton he could dig his heels in and give us an edge in negotiations.

If that isn’t the case, then the Blues may well see one of the prime January targets slip from their grasp.