Everton have been looking at rightbacks to compete with incumbent starter Seamus Coleman for some time now, and when Jonjoe Kenny’s loan to Schalke 04 was completed, it became virtually a certainty that the Blues would be signing one this summer.
Thomas Meunier is one player who has been on the Toffees’ radar for sometime, but it appears the Belgian was not looking for a move to the Blues. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is another name Everton have been linked with, but it appears it’ll take a monstrous sum to prise him away from Crystal Palace. Chelsea’s youngster Reece James has also been mentioned with Swansea City also chasing the player, but he lacks top flight experience.
So the latest rumours out of Spain (via SportWitness) saying that the Blues are closely monitoring Atletico Madrid’s Santiago Arias come as no surprise. The Colombian fullback was actually signed by Everton’s Director of Football Marcel Brands in his previous role at PSV Eindhoven, and is very familiar with the player who appeared in 172 games in five years for PSV and went on to become the Eredivisie’s Player of the Year for the 2017-18 season.
Arias featured in 33 games for the Rojiblancos last season, scoring once and creating two assists in Diego Simeone’s rigid defensive system. While gifted with a fighting mentality and attacking verve, there remain question marks over his defensive abilities which is why Atleti are looking to move on from the player just one season after paying about €10m for him.
His key stats seem decent enough, with Arias ranking in the top ten among La Liga rightbacks in most categories - 0.5 shots, 0.7 key passes, 2.2 tackles, 1.7 interceptions, 1.8 clearances and winning 50% of his 4.2 aerial challenges (all stats per 90 min).
Everton have ramped up their South American scouting in the last year, and Arias would have come up again, having picked up 48 caps for Colombia. He was a key member of Jose Pekerman’s team that lost to Jordan Pickford’s England side at the World Cup in Russia, and is currently at the Copa America with Everton defender Yerry Mina.
At 27 he doesn’t quite fit the Brands transfer model, but could certainly be a stopgap measure for the next couple of years until Everton find their rightback of the future, especially if he can be obtained for a reasonable sum and wages.