Sandro Ramirez leading the line alone was never going to cut it for Everton in a world without Romelu Lukaku, and if reports out of Italy are to be believed, Steve Walsh has just arrived in Milan as a man on a mission.
Dirigenti #Everton arrivati a Casa #Milan. Ecco gli obiettivi degli inglesi https://t.co/39CNxgXdqs pic.twitter.com/iLQy6gCe9k— Gianluca Di Marzio (@DiMarzio) June 14, 2017
The Toffees contingent started their Italy sojourn with a stop at AC Milan headquarters where they spent an hour and a half. The players discussed per di Marzio are all forwards: Carlos Bacca, M’Baye Niang and Gianluca Lapadula.
They are headed next to Inter Milan who are rumoured to be holding a fire sale after failing to qualify for Europe for the coming season. Among the names mentioned are former Blues target Ever Banega, as well as Marcelo Brozovic and Jeison Murillo.
It appears that a quick trip to Turin is also on the cards with Juventus players Mario Lemina and Norberto Neto also rumored.
Given the pending acquisitions of Davy Klaassen and Gylfi Sigurdsson, it’s highly likely that midfielders Banega, Brozovic, and Lemina would be surplus to requirements.
That could be revisited in the event that James McCarthy and/or Muhamed Besic are shipped out, but for now, any rumors linking additional midfielders are probably just window dressing.
Murillo, 25, plays center back for the blue side of the San Siro as well as the Colombian national team. A talented player, Murillo may be Walsh’s latest backup plan in case the move for Michael Keane falls through. Harry Maguire looks to be on his way to Leicester City, while Mateo Musacchio was signed by AC Milan.
Neto, a 25 year old Brazilian goalkeeper, is a career backup being pushed out the door at Juventus by the pending arrival of Wojciech Szczesny from Arsenal. Neto would not be preferred over Jordan Pickford, but could be seen as a major upgrade on Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles.
The most prominent rumors borne out of Steve Walsh’s trip to Italy, though, are by far the ones that link Everton to new strikers.
Duvan Zapata of Udinese is a name that was thrown out by Everton scout Carlo Jacomuzzi, however, at 26 years old and with only 10 goals in 3150 minutes this season, the Italian club’s €25 million valuation is going to scare off all but the most foolish suitors.
M’Baye Niang is immensely talented and also capable of playing on the wing, but was never quite able to crack the rotation at AC Milan, and spent most of this season on loan at Watford. He scored 2 goals in 15 appearances for the Hornets, and while he may still have some growth in his game, it’s doubtful that there’s enough in his locker to perform at the level Everton require.
Lapadula, 27, just recently moved to the San Siro from Pescara, scoring 8 goals in his debut season for AC Milan. It’s good due diligence from Everton to inquire, however...
The white whale in all of this, though, is Carlos Bacca. An experienced poacher in the purest sense, Bacca has experience in European football, and scored a goal every 163 minutes this season.
Carlos Bacca - Serie A 16/17 (up to January 24th) [for @baresi63] pic.twitter.com/arydgeKbD1— Football Radars (@FussballRadars) January 24, 2017
Given that Lapadula and now Andre Silva are on the Rossoneri’s books, Bacca may see himself as needing to move elsewhere for the playing time he deserves.
Everton could have a big time bargaining chip to use in Gerard Deulofeu, and with Klaassen and Sigurdsson on board, the Colombian would be provided with the service he needs to make an impact.
There’s a lot going on with Everton Football Club these days, and as such it can be difficult to make heads or tails of all the rumors that continue to fly.
It’s growing increasingly clear, though, that the Blues’ midfield and defense is nearly set for the upcoming season, and that the club knows they must replace Romelu Lukaku’s goals, by any means necessary.