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Everton forward transfer targets - Gnonto, Rodrigo, Danjuma, Toure status & verdicts

Young has reportedly already been signed, but what news on the attacking front?

Everton FC v Leeds United - Premier League
“Lemme go, I must join Everton!!”
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Reports indicate that Ashley Young completed his medical earlier today and has signed the paperwork to make him an Everton player, the first signing of this summer transfer window. The 38-year-old fullback will be a versatile back-up for Sean Dyche in a number of different spots across the pitch, and his fitness and leadership would fit right in with the mentality the manager is trying to instill in this motley crew.

However, despite all the transfer rumours, the Toffees are yet to sign any players in the forward areas where they struggled the most last season. Everton were the second-lowest scoring side in the Premier League last campaign, and found goals extremely difficult to come by especially when Dominic Calvert-Lewin was out injured. That the Blues somehow were not punished by relegation after selling Richarlison in the summer and then Anthony Gordon in the winter is testament to how poor the three sides that did go down were.

Some names have kept popping up during this transfer window, let’s run through them and see where things stand with each of the players and how they would contribute to the squad.

El Bilal Toure

The Almeria striker burst onto the scene last season and fits the profile of player that the Toffees need to be getting. The 21-year-old made an immediate impact in La Liga after tearing it up the previous couple of seasons in Ligue 1 as a teenager, bagging seven goals and two assists.

Unlike Toffee-flop Sandro Ramirez however, his underlying numbers supported his output and the player is expected to go on to bigger and better things in his career. It’s no surprise that teams that are renowned for scouting young talent like Atalanta are clamouring for the striker.

Where things get dicey though is with Everton’s finances. The Blues have asked Almeria to lower the €40 million (£34m) release clause, and are proposing a loan deal for the first year, with a mandatory purchase clause and the payments to be made over four instalments after that.

Atalanta meanwhile are reportedly offering £22m and will pay upfront for the player, likely with funds from a proposed sale of star-in-the-making Rasmus Hojlund to Manchester United.

The Mali international has 5 goals in 15 international appearances and would be the perfect foil for Calvert-Lewin. It’ll be difficult for the Blues to find a forward possessing both power and pace in their price range, and in Toure have a player who has all the tools to be successful in the Premier League.

VERDICT: Unless the Blues can offload Demarai Gray to Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia in the next few days or else Atalanta keep Hojlund, this transfer seems very unlikely.

El Bilal Toure celebrates after scoring
Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images

Wilfried Gnonto

The Leeds forward continues to get talked about with a move to Everton. His memories of the Toffees would not be that kind however, with club captain Seamus Coleman pocketing him all game and then scoring a crucial winner (Everton’s Goal of the Season in fact) that pretty much sent the lily-whites down while keeping the Blues up. To add insult to his own injury the diminutive forward got into a spat with the Irishman who then riled him up to the point where Idrissa Gueye and James Tarkowski had to get involved!

All that aside, the Italy international is certainly an exciting wide player who has a bright future ahead of him wherever he lands up. Like many younger players the 19-year-old is easily frustrated and tends to drift out of games when man-marked, but has plenty of talent to work himself out of tight situations, not unlike another Italian player the Blues had recently signed in Moise Kean.

Updates today indicate that the Blues are not close to agreeing a fee with Leeds as yet for the player, even though rumours from Italy yesterday reported a transfer fee of nearly €22 million with Aston Villa also in the mix for the player. We’ve previously covered how he would fit in with the Blues in this analysis.

Quite where he would fit into this squad is another matter. While he is capable of playing as a second striker, he is at his best out on the left where the Blues already have workhorse and Dyche-favourite Dwight McNeil. Would McNeil switch to the right to allow Gnonto onto the pitch? What then of Alex Iwobi?

VERDICT: All indications are that Everton want to bring the player to Merseyside no matter what, just a question of how much they will have to pay and what form those payments will take. Whether this transfer is dependent on some outgoing deals or not is what remains to be addressed.

Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Gnonto shoots at goal against Brighton
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Rodrigo Moreno

Exit Salomon Rondon, enter Rodrigo Moreno? The Brazilian-born Spain international might have a bit more pedigree than the Rafa Benitez favourite, but the 32-year-old is clearly on the downturn after joining Leeds on a four-year contract in the summer of 2020 for a club record £27m transfer fee.

The striker has 28 goals and 5 assists in 97 games played, with 15 of those goals coming last season when he become the focal point of the team after the departure of Raphinha and Patrick Bamford’s injury issues. There is certainly a concern with his stats from last season with Rodrigo picking up 13 league goals from an xG of 8.57, which introduces a certain amount of risk and luck with his output.

In each of the three seasons at Leeds he has missed over a month of action, usually around January, with an assortment of different injuries, and there is a risk with signing a player who will turn 33 in early 2024 as back-up for another player who constantly struggles with niggles.

The player has been linked with a number of different teams varying from Fulham to Atletico Madrid. Everton reportedly have asked about him and Gnonto as a package deal, which would make sense if some sort of creative accounting is happening behind the scenes.

VERDICT: This one reeks of desperation, but then again, this is the world Everton live in nowadays. The Toffees don’t have much money to spend and bringing in a journeyman forward seems counterintuitive when a youngster like Tom Cannon is champing at the bit looking to get playing time.

UPDATE: The Toffees have been saved from making a decision on him. Early on Wednesday it was announced that Rodrigo was close to sealing a move to Qatar side Al Rayyan.

Leeds United v Everton FC - Premier League
Rodrigo tangles with Jordan Pickford, with the forward dislocating his shoulder after the clash last season
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Arnaut Danjuma

Isn’t it interesting that Danjuma starts commenting on social media posts from Everton players just when suddenly his name starts popping up in transfer chatter as well? His responses to Abdoulaye Doucoure and Idrissa Gueye in recent days have certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons given the disgraceful manner in which he fled Merseyside having already done all the media responsibilities that come with signing for a club in January.

The Dutch forward returned to Villarreal pretty much in shame after clocking under two hundred minutes of playing time in twelve appearances for Tottenham Hotspur, scoring twice. Word has it that he’s looking to return to the Premier League again, and with three years left on his deal with the Spanish side he would be a loan candidate again.

We extensively covered his possible fit in the Everton squad during the winter transfer window, with the 26-year-old providing Dyche with a genuine goal threat from a numbe rof different positions, especially when lining up in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. If Calvert-Lewin is fit to play, then Danjuma could feasibly start on the left and Gray switch to the right, and the pair could interchange during the game to keep defences on their toes. If DCL is out injured then Dyche could start Danjuma up top instead of Neal Maupay, with Gray and McNeil as the wingers.

VERDICT: Danjuma can likely be had on a loan deal with the Yellow Submarine having signed forward Ben Brereton Díaz this summer. Winning over the fans who have been embittered his brazen about-face in January will take a lot more doing. Then again, he’s a forward, and you can wager if he bangs in a couple of goals in the early going all will be forgiven and quickly forgotten too.

Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images