There comes a point every transfer window when Everton’s transfer target players and positions become quite clear, and from that point on just about every ‘eligible’ player abroad and in England starts getting mentioned in the same breath as the Blues.
With Andre Gomes’ signing just about done, the media has jumped on the narrative that signing a central defender should be next. The incumbent from last season is Kurt Zouma, whose future is on a bit of a hold for now while Chelsea sort out their internal affairs with getting a new manager and deciding who is surplus to requirements.
Since then though, a number of other centrehalves have also been linked with the Blues, including Real Madrid product Diego Llorente currently at Real Sociedad. With Phil Jagielka gone as well as Ashley Williams, Everton currently only have Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate on the squad as recognized centrebacks and it’s very likely Marco Silva will ask for two players at the position before the beginning of the season.
Zouma might cost a premium and will not be happening any time soon, but apparently there’s a gaggle of Premier League clubs flocking around Bristol City’s Adam Webster, with Newcastle, Watford FC, Southampton, Burnley, Leicester City and Brighton & Hove Albion all supposedly pursuing the central defender and now Everton have joined that group, according to the Bristol Post.
Webster was signed a season ago from Ipswich Town - with Everton’s Matthew Pennington going to the Tractor Boys to fill that void - and had a sparkling season in the Championship. The Robins finished in 8th place and missed out on the playoffs, and are expected to cash in on the 24-year-old this summer to fund another promotion push for the coming season.
His stats are solid for a defender - (all stats per 90 min) 1.5 successful tackles, 2.2 interceptions, 4.5 clearances, 0.8 shots blocked, and winning 71.5% of his aerial duels. Some perspective is required here though, with the aforementioned Pennington also showing up highly in all of those categories. Additionally, his passing vision out of the back is impressive with 5.2 successful long balls per 90, something that Silva values highly.
However, WhoScored also rates Webster very highly as the second-best central defender in the Championship, behind Leeds United’s Pontus Jansson. The defender also registers 0.7 shots per 90 min played with 3 goals last season, all from setpieces where his hulking presence proves to be quite advantageous.
Durable and tough, Webster featured in 47 games last season, logging close to 4,000 minutes while picking up only five yellow cards all season long in the rough and tumble Championship. Webster is a calm and composed presence on the ball, does not slide into rash challenges preferring to stay on his feet and use his 6’ 3” frame to outmuscle opponent forwards.
Bristol manager Lee Johnson admits that the player could leave this summer, but emphatically denied that the player has a £12 million release clause, with the Robins likely looking for more than that considering Webster would count as a homegrown player.
Johnson added -
“I think the first port of call is that we understand the speculation because he’s a fantastic player.
“Our stance is that we don’t want to lose Adam Webster. You can never say never in football. But if you look at the values for other players flying around that sort of figure would be vastly undervaluing him from where I would see it.
“But at the same time I don’t even want to talk about our best players leaving.”
File this one away as an unlikely one especially when considering that Webster is already 24 and will most probably command a transfer fee north of £15m, which Everton are not going to spend for a player that be fourth or fifth in the pecking order especially when there are other needs that have to be addressed elsewhere in the squad.