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Everton now linked with two Italy-based midfielders

Toffees shopping at the top two sides in Serie A for midfield help

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Serie A
Emre Can of Juventus competes for the ball with Matias Vecino of FC Internazionale
Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Yesterday’s midfield no-show will have convinced Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti that he needs to bring in reinforcements into the middle of the park sooner than later. To the Italian’s chagrin, he watched time and again as the Blues lacked any sort of attacking bite trying to move the ball through midfield, and then suffered the ignominy of elite ballwatcher Mark Noble actually controlling the pace of the game.

Certainly if the manager’s not had enough the supporters have. Andre Gomes has returned to training but could still be a month or more away from getting to full match fitness. Jean-Philippe Gbamin is training with the squad now, but having returned from surgery he will also be at least a couple of weeks out from making an appearance.

In the meantime, if the Toffees are expecting to get to within the top six then a midfield of Tom Davies, Fabian Delph and Morgan Schneiderlin (and even Gylfi Sigurdsson) is just not going to cut it.

Everton are not going to be able to splash too much cash in the January transfer window without moving a couple of more players out, but could be in the market for the right loan with a reasonable buyout clause thrown-in as well. To that end, they’ve been linked with a couple of Italy-based players in recent days.

Matias Vecino is being shopped by title-chasing Inter Milan as they look to clear up funds to purchase Christian Eriksen from Tottenham Hotspur. The 28-year-old Uruguayan international is a box-to-box midfielder who does most of the basic things required of the position decently enough, but is also at his performance ceiling and not the kind of player Marcel Brands usually targets - the Delph purchase will certainly be haunting him now.

Apparently Vecino is training alone as Antonio Conte has already segregated him for sale from the rest of the squad (Daily Express), with the rumour mill churning that he could be used as a makeweight with Tottenham for Eriksen. His former club Fiorentina, Lazio and Newcastle are also linked along with Everton.

Vecino vs Gomes, last two seasons
Understat.com
Can vs Gomes, last two seasons
Understat.com

The other player whose name popped up early yesterday is former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can. The Germany international has fallen out of favour at Juventus with Maurizio Sarri keeping him out of the Champions League squad for the Italian champions. The 26-year-old has already had a couple of showdowns with the club leadership about his future and will be looking to leave in January if he can.

Multiple media sources report that Ancelotti is looking to bring in the midfielder during this transfer window (Daily Mail, The Mirror), having failed to purchase him for Napoli in the summer.

The Reds signed Can for £13 million in the summer of 2014, but watched him leave for Turin on a free transfer in 2018, but Can’s stance will have weakened any leverage Juventus have selling the player. Everton have a good working relationship with the Italian giants following the purchase of Moise Kean over the summer, and will be looking to reach a compromise with the player’s release clause set at £42m. Can’s £80,000/week salary could also be an issue for the Blues as they are looking to lighten the wage bill, but having shifted out Cenk Tosun’s £60,000/week and if they can also move out Cuco Martina (£35,000) and Oumar Niasse (£55,000), that might be worked out.

Can has proven to be injury-prone so far in his career, missing about ten games a season for the last few years. He had 14 goals and 12 assists in four seasons with the Reds, and 4 goals and 1 assist in 45 games over two seasons at Juventus.

Vecino vs Can, last four seasons
Understat

As the graphic above shows though, on the attacking front the two players are basically interchangeable with very similar stats. This could come down to who’s younger and provides more upside for the money spent.