It’s been Everton’s worst kept transfer secret for about two years now.
While Marcel Brands has secured the future of the left back position with extending Lucas Digne to 2024-25 and signing Niels Nkounkou over the summer, the right-back position remains one in flux.
Seamus Coleman is now 32 and about to enter the last season of his current contract. Jonjoe Kenny is out on loan at Celtic and will likely be sold to the first bidder that comes along. Mason Holgate is always a good stand-in option, but his future lies in the middle.
We had hoped that Everton would make a move for Max Aarons in January but it looks like the Blues are continuing to pursue talks with Norwich City with a view to a summer transfer.
Everton want Max Aarons and they’re working on it, confirmed. #EFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 26, 2021
Manchester United have scouted him and they’ll decide in the coming months. Bayern Münich after opening talks with Norwich are *not* convinced to pay €35m for him, as @cfbayern reported. https://t.co/phsV5Opcb8
We dug into all of Everton’s right-back options about a month ago, and talked about Aarons at length. The Norwich City fullback definitely ticks the box when you talk of exciting prospects, and will not come cheap with his current contract with the Canaries going through till 2024.
For those who have not watched much of the 21-year-old, he has the right build for a fullback - just a shade under six feet tall and lightning quick. He is first and foremost a good defender, but excels in making runs out wide, creating openings up and down the wing. Aarons is very comfortable playing out of the back like Ancelotti has the Blues doing now, and was successful doing so at a Norwich side that ended up going back down last season.
Aarons remains good friends with Everton defender Ben Godfrey who has been a hit on Merseyside already after joining this last summer. Interestingly, all the Godfrey naysayers who lamented signing a defender from one of the worst teams defensively in the top tier have all disappeared now, but there has already been some dissent around signing Aarons too on the same grounds. The thing to remember is that under Daniel Farke’s attacking philosophy, team defending always came second and often Aarons was left on his own with Emiliano Buendia not providing the best defensive cover for him.
The youngster’s pace and work rate are unquestionable however, and a season or two of learning from Coleman will go a long way towards improving his ability. Plus, having Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan in front of him is light years ahead than the duo of Tom Trybull and Alexander Tettey.
Norwich for their part are resigned to losing Aarons this summer, even if they can get promoted back to the Premier League. The windfall they will obtain for his transfer will certainly help the Canaries strengthen for another challenging top flight campaign. Here is City’s majority shareholder Delia Smith talking at the FT Business of Football summit [Pink Un].
“Luckily, because of this wonderful team behind the scenes, we have some really lovely players. They’ve got a nice temperament and Max Aarons is one of the best. He is going to be one of the top footballers and it won’t be at Norwich.
“He knows that, we know that. But we didn’t have any problem with Max or his parents on this particular occasion and this particular deal. Obviously, we will lose him, but that is part of our plan.”
Bayern’s interest in Aarons can be considered a true barometer of the player’s talent and value. It is interesting that the Bundesliga giants think that £30 million is an overpayment for him though - if you can sign a player that Bayern want, and can get him for less than they want to pay, you have hit the jackpot.
In Munich, Aarons will be behind World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard and a part of one of Europe’s best teams who just lifted the World Club Cup trophy. In terms of a career move, it’s hard to do better than that for a promising 21-year-old.
Manchester United’s rumoured interest in him is a bit odd considering they just shelled out £45 million for 23-year-old Aaron Wan-Bissaka a couple of seasons ago. And while they have tried to strengthen their fullbacking corps with multiple signings, Aarons going to Old Trafford will see his career stall, especially since Wan-Bissaka is pretty durable compared to say, Luke Shaw on the other wing.
At Everton, Aarons would be in a position where he could play about half the team’s games next season, and that could include European football too. We could easily see a scenario where Coleman signs a one- or two-year extension to see out the rest of his career with the Toffees like Leighton Baines did. In that situation, it would work out perfectly for both Everton and Aarons to blood the youngster while he learns from Coleman and gets to work with Carlo Ancelotti. Having a manager of the Italian’s pedigree definitely makes Finch Farm a more attractive destination, as we’ve seen with players like James Rodriguez and Allan joining, and even Joshua King picking the Blues for that sole reason. There is also the added bonus of being reunited with Godfrey at the Blues, with the pair sharing a strong friendship from their days together at Norwich.
Ultimately from a bigger picture perspective it would be better for Aarons to join Bayern, clearly. However, it has been a while that Everton have been in a position where they can compete for a player and provide as attractive a package in terms of coaching, development, playing level and minutes as the best club in the world. Certainly if the Blues can get into Europe next season, that will only do their prospects of landing Aarons and indeed more players a whole world of good.