Going into this season Everton fans knew that if anything happened to veteran left back Leighton Baines the Blues would be in trouble. That ominous prediction came true as first the Toffees failed to add a backup in the position during the summer transfer window, and then the 32-year-old picked up a calf injury that has him out for an indeterminate period.
While Cuco Martina has been a kind-of-reasonable fill-in at the position, he offers very little of the dynamic support on the left that Baines does - to be honest, Baines himself has been a pale shadow of his attacking best in the last couple of season, likely from being run into the ground. The future of the position is up in doubt as well with no clear successor in sight.
Augsburg defender Philipp Max has made an impression in recent years, with the 24-year-old receiving three Die Mannschaft caps, and even scoring in one of those games. The Mail claims that there are at least four Premier League clubs keeping close tabs on the defender, with Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Everton all interested in his progress.
United under Mourinho has been an unhappy place for Luke Shaw and he is likely to try get his career back on track this summer elsewhere from Old Trafford, while Tottenham surely have the greatest depth at the fullback positions of any team in the top flight of the best five European leagues, even with the sale of Kyle Walker to Manchester City.
This leaves Merseyside Derby rivals Everton and Liverpool. The Reds haven’t been necessarily impressed by the performance of the now-injured Alberto Moreno while James Milner is not a permanent solution in the position by any means. They added Andy Robertson over the offseason and depending on how Klopp feels about him, that could knock Liverpool out of contention in this debate.
Blues manager Sam Allardyce will be looking to make impact purchases in January that could make an immediate difference. Max is likely headed to the 2018 World Cup in Russia with Germany thanks to his stellar performances for Augsburg which has seen the club make it’s best ever Bundesliga start in 8th place.
What could complicate matters is that the 24-year-old signed a new five-year-deal at the beginning of the new season, but his one goal and seven assists in fourteen Bundesliga games is what has been really eye-catching.
He also won a silver medal for Germany’s Olympic squad in 2016, and should cost somewhere in the €5 million range, but if a bidding war breaks out that could escalate rapidly.
The Blues have also been linked with Allardyce’s former player at Crystal Palace Patrick van Aanholt.