Arsenal’s acquisition of David Luiz from Chelsea has been cited as the reason Everton saw an agreed deal for Fikayo Tomori collapse at the eleventh hour, according to Football Insider.
Everton had targeted Tomori as a late candidate to succeed Chelsea teammate Kurt Zouma at Goodison Park, but saw negotiations scrapped after Luiz joined Arsenal on Deadline Day for a reported £8m (BBC), with the Brazilian penning a two-year contract at the Emirates Stadium.
Toffees boss Marco Silva and Director of Football Marcel Brands had been determined to retain Zouma following a successful season on loan (BBC), but saw their hopes thrown out of the window when he expressed a desire to fight for a place under new Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard (Daily Mail).
His decision left the Goodison Park natives in the market for cover in central defence, leading to links with Manchester United duo Chris Smalling (Sky Sports) and Marcos Rojo (Daily Mail) as well as Tomori.
Chelsea gave the 21-year-old permission to gain experience at a top-flight side in July as they wanted him to play at the highest level, rather than spend another term at a lower-tier outfit, after a stint with Derby County in 2018/19 (Evening Standard).
A source from within Everton is alleged to have now told Football Insider that a deal for Tomori to spend the 2019/20 campaign on Merseyside had been agreed in principle between the Toffees and Chelsea, but was scrapped at the eleventh hour due to Luiz’s hastily arranged transfer between the London rivals.
Luiz’s move to Arsenal still left Lampard with eight potential centre-backs (TransferMarkt), but Kurt Zouma (4), Andreas Christensen (3) and Tomori (1) have been the only men deployed in the role during a Premier League game so far this season (WhoScored).
Silva, on the other hand, has three senior centre-halves in Yerry Mina, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate, who is yet to feature in the heart of defence in a league encounter – making his only top-flight outing of the term in place of Lucas Digne, following an injury to the Frenchman sustained at home to Watford.
Tomori enjoyed a strong campaign in the second tier with Derby last term as they reached the play-off final, but as is often the case, the Championship represents a very contrasting challenge to defenders than the Premier League.
Take Norwich City, for example. They romped to the second-tier title last season having conceded just three goals more than Derby, but were comfortably picked apart by Liverpool on the opening day of the Premier League season.
The Guardian noted at half time, when the score was already 4-0, that the Reds had been allowed to ease into the game ‘thanks to bad Norwich finishing and even worse Norwich defending’.
The Telegraph also shunned the Canaries’ defensive efforts in the first half at Anfield, noting the only difference at the break was the scoreline, and ‘that was because of Norwich’s defending. [Grant] Hanley scored an own goal for the first, and his Liverpool counterpart [Virgil] van Dijk headed the third in direct from a corner having barely had to jump to get a contact on the ball’.
Signing Tomori would have given Silva and Brands the depth at the back they were looking for, although it would have remained to be seen if he would have warranted selection ahead of Mina and Keane in the opening games of the season.
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