The Italian media has never been a wholly reliable source of transfer information but they have appeared to be spot on recently especially around Serie A players.
Allan to Everton has become a bit of a tired narrative ever since Carlo Ancelotti took over at the Toffees and discovered how awful the midfield was.
Meanwhile, we’ve watched as two targets that the Blues have been linked heavily with go to ‘top six’ Premier League sides - midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg chose Tottenham Hotspur over Goodison Park, and now it appears defender Gabriel Magalhaes wants to join Arsenal despite the Toffees having an agreement with him and Lille since early this year.
Now two separate Italian journos are claiming that Allan Marques Loureiro’s long-awaited transfer to Everton will indeed happen in the next few days.
Everton are back in talks with Napoli to sign Allan. Also Abdoulaye Doucouré (Watford) is on the list. Ancelotti strongly wants a new midfielder. @DiMarzio @SkySport #EFC #Napoli— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 17, 2020
Allan andrà all’Everton, operazione che si chiuderà nei prossimi giorni— Niccolò Ceccarini (@NickCecca) August 17, 2020
Previous unsubstantiated rumours have claimed that the sticking point between the two clubs has been the transfer fee in the region of €25 to €30 million (£22.6 to 27.2m), which from an Everton perspective should be questioned considering that the midfielder is 29 years old and is in current manager Gennaro Gattuso’s doghouse.
Even the casual football fan would be horrified were he/she to cast their gaze on Everton’s wage bill, especially when you look at the number of ageing players on it who were signed to transfer fees they would never live up to, and now still wear the royal blue or grace the bench, unable to be moved on because of their Sword of Damocles contracts signed by previous regimes.
Director of Football Marcel Brands has indicated that by choice he prefers to bring in players younger than 27, still at their peak years, but has also shown that he is not against bringing in veterans who will provide wisdom and leadership, in theory at least. Signing 29-year-old Fabian Delph on a reasonable transfer fee for a three year deal was a smart move, but handing him wages of £80,000 per week then watching him foment discord and make bone-headed mistakes when not injured has definitely backfired.
With that in mind, perceptive Evertonians are concerned when they see big numbers being bandied about for transfer fees for Allan, especially knowing that the Blues can only afford so much in the transfer market with Financial Fair Play regulations.
This season more than any other we came to understand the value of a midfielder that can tackle. Spoiled as we were in the past by Idrissa Gueye, we watched bemused as top teams and bottom dwellers alike waltzed through the turnstile that posed as the Everton midfield.
Guess what Allan is renowned for? Tackling. He led Serie A in both tackles attempted (6) and successful tackles (3.5) per 90 minutes played - in fact, he’s been pretty much at the top of both standings for the five years he’s been in Italy.
A criticism of Gana was that he didn’t bring much more to the table than winning the ball back. However, it’s the presence of players like him that allows the skill players to do their thing. Jorginho’s success in Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli was because of his ‘bodyguard’ Allan, and now Carlo Ancelotti wants to replicate that at Everton.
From a November 2018 article in It’s Round And It’s White, here’s an excellent summary of Allan the player -
Under Carlo Ancelotti this season, Allan has added several dimensions to his game. He’s continued to perform consistently, as well as show industry, but never looked more assured on the ball. Often driving forward with poise and power, he is inclined more than ever to take on defenders. It’s a huge progression in his skillset.
Despite starting just nine league matches, Allan leads Serie A in tackles made. Fearless to lodge himself into stakes, his confidence level is at an all-time high. For possession won in the midfield third, he ranks among the best in the whole of Europe. Allan has always excelled as a ball-winner, though.
So what should Everton be comfortable paying for the midfielder? Clearly despite his abilities it would make no sense to hand him a six figure deal with a record transfer fee, obviously. At the same time, we need to make sure we get the player we need without getting into a bidding war.
25-year-old Højbjerg, a former Bayern Munich player, went to Spurs for about £15m with one year left on his current deal with Southampton. Allan meanwhile has three years left on his contract with Napoli, and is a better player. Here’s a cursory glance at their underlying performance indicators.
In Ancelotti’s 4-4-2, Allan will allow Andre Gomes and Gylfi Sigurdsson to thrive against opposition who will have less possession than the Blues. Against better teams Ancelotti might look at throwing him in alongside Jean-Philippe Gbamin or Fabian Delph to add steel to the middle.
All of this is to say that on paper at least, Allan looks like a much-needed Gana replacement a season too late. He is currently on wages of €70,000 per week, so giving him a modest payrise brings him to about £75,000 per week on a three year contract. As for transfer fees, something in the £20 million range sounds like a fair compromise between what the Partenopei are looking for and what Everton are willing to pay.