It looks like the Gabriel Magalhaes transfer saga is about to come to an end - and it’s not good news for Evertonians.
The Liverpool Echo is reporting that the Toffees are ready to give up on their pursuit of the Brazilian as they are refusing to meet Lille’s asking price.
Everton were believed to have agreed a deal worth around £30m with the French club earlier this year, but the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis saw them go back to the negotiating table to try and lower their offer.
That allowed rival clubs to enter the race, with Arsenal and Napoli both apparently willing to pay more than €25 million (£22.5m/$29.6m) for the 22-year-old.
Of course, it may well be that Gabriel has turned down Everton and favours a move to Napoli or the Gunners, with the line fed to the Echo designed to try and save face.
But either way, if the deal is dead, it is time for Everton to move on quickly to other targets.
Gabriel would certainly be a wonderful signing, the type of player Marcel Brands was brought in to recruit. He would have slotted in nicely alongside our current centre backs and at 22 would likely only increase in value.
But we have to accept the financial reality Everton are faced with at present. The reckless spending over previous seasons combined with the Covid-19 crisis means they have to operate on a budget. As frustrating as it is to miss out on a signing because of a few million pounds, it at least shows the days of paying over the odds are over (for now at least).
We also cannot afford to have a repeat of last year, when their summer-long chase of Kurt Zouma ended in failure, with no back-ups lined up (or if they were, it was too late in the window to do anything about it). I think we would all sooner have this transfer saga resolved one way or the other now so the club can move on.
Plus, since Everton first opened talks with Lille earlier this year their transfer priorities have changed.
Strengthening the midfield is now of paramount importance to Brands and Carlo Ancelotti, as the team’s desperate end to the season showed. If we are on a budget, then the overwhelming majority of the cash has to go on players in that position.
The emergence of Jarrad Branthwaite has also perhaps influenced Everton’s thinking. The 18-year-old is still raw, but became increasingly assured as time went on during his early appearances for the club. Then there is Lewis Gibson, who by all accounts thrived on loan at Fleetwood and is now knocking on the door of the first-team squad.
Ancelotti and Brands may feel that their development would be stunted by the arrival of another senior player, especially with the club’s failure to qualify for Europe limiting the amount of games we have next season.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have Gabriel at the club and it would be hugely disappointing to miss out after putting in so much groundwork. But I don’t think it would be a disaster either, as a priorities lie elsewhere.