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Everton TT Roundup: Djibril Sidibe linked with AC Milan, Blues interested in Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Nunez, Michael Keane discusses failed move for Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma

In this instalment of our TT Roundup, Football Transfer Tavern have gathered three of the biggest stories to have involved Everton recently and have provided our thoughts on the reports published.

Djibril Sidibe linked with AC Milan

France's Djibril Sidibe before training, October 2018

According to Fox Sports and Tuttosport (via Sport Witness), AC Milan are considering AS Monaco right-back Djibril Sidibe as a potential low-cost reinforcement for the winter market, and could make a move to sign the Frenchman who is currently on loan with Everton.

Sidibe has so far struggled to establish himself in Marco Silva’s plans at Goodison Park, making two Carabao Cup outings and one, 31 minute-long Premier League appearance prior to this weekend’s action (TransferMarkt), leading to fears his place in Didier Deschamps’ Euro 2020 squad could be at risk.

The 18-cap defender had been omitted from each of Deschamps’ Les Bleus squads since March before earning a recall for the October Euro qualifiers, although Sidibe failed to make his first appearance since last year’s World Cup.

Milan are currently looking for potential additions at right-back after a challenging start to the season, and have set their sights on signing a physical option to support Davide Calabria and Andrea Conti, leading them to consider Sidibe.

Fox Sports claim that Sidibe’s lack of game time in England could see that Monaco recall the Troyes-born defender in January, and that Milan could acquire the 27-year-old on a loan-to-buy basis like Everton currently have, with the Blues holding a €14million (£12.1m) option to buy (L’Equipe).

Verdict

In Tuttosport’s report of Milan’s interest, they add that Everton are not totally convinced by what they have seen from Sidibe thus far, suggesting why Silva has so rarely handed the Frenchman minutes in the Premier League.

If that is the case, the Blues will likely be scouting the market themselves for another option to bring to Goodison Park come January to compete with Seamus Coleman, and will not oppose Monaco recalling Sidibe so that he can join Milan.

Losing Sidibe without first signing a replacement would be a risk, though, as the 27-year-old’s departure would deprive Silva of the senior back-up right-back the Monaco man was tasked with being, all the while Jonjoe Kenny remains on loan with FC Schalke 04.

Everton set sights on Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Nunez

Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa in action with Athletic Bilbao's Unai Nunez

According to Football Insider, Everton have set their sights on making a January move for Athletic Bilbao centre-back Unai Nunez, having regularly scouted the Spain international over the last couple of seasons.

Nunez burst onto the scene during the 2017/18 La Liga season when he made 33 outings and struck his first senior goal for Bilbao (TransferMarkt), but saw his minutes curtailed last term as he drifted from the starting line-up and the bench to make a total of 13 league outings.

Inigo Martinez’s return to fitness in the current campaign saw Nunez again pushed aside, having started the first three games of the season, and his limited match time has offered hope to sides like Everton that a transfer would be possible.

The 22-year-old made his senior Spain debut against the Faroe Islands in a Euro 2020 qualifier in September, after helping his nation to win this summer’s U21s European Championship. His rise to prominence also saw Nunez labelled as one of the best young defenders in Spain, and has been likened to Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte.

Everton are keen to bolster their defence after failing to land a new centre-half in the summer, and have placed Nunez high on their shortlist.

Verdict

Everton have struggled at the back in recent weeks, and signing another central defensive option to compete with Michel Keane and Yerry Mina should see that the Silva regulars are kept on their toes far more than Mason Holgate has thus far managed.

As well as having difficulties at defending set-pieces, Keane and Mina have attempted fewer tackles combined than Richarlison has in the Premier League this season, while Gylfi Sigurdsson, Andre Gomes, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bernard and Fabian Delph have attempted more individually, per WhoScored data.

Keane and Mina have also been inconsistent in the air, with the England international leading Everton’s aerial duel success chart with 40 successful battles, but also ranking second for unsuccessful duels with 36.

It remains to be seen if Nunez would be that man, as while his sample size is smaller, he only attempted one tackle in his three La Liga outings thus far, and was only successful in 12 of his 21 aerial duels.

Keane admits disappointment at Zouma not joining

Everton manager Marco Silva with Michael Keane after the Burnley match

Keane has told the Liverpool Echo that he was disappointed Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma did not join Everton on a permanent deal this summer, after the Toffees failed in their advances to retain the France centre-back following his season on loan.

The pair formed a solid partnership at the back for Silva last term with six clean sheets, while Zouma recorded the third-most interceptions (54) of any Blues player – only behind Idrissa Gana Gueye (74) and Lucas Digne (60, per WhoScored).

Chelsea’s transfer ban and Frank Lampard feeling Zouma could play a part in his new side at Stamford Bridge saw that the 24-year-old returned to west London in the summer, and has gone on to make 11 appearances across all competitions.

Keane has since formed a partnership with Mina that had kept two clean sheets in the first two games of the Premier League season, but have now gone on to concede 13 in the following six outings.

“[Zouma] was brilliant for us and a great person to have around the squad as well, so I’m disappointed he didn’t come,” Keane said. “But that’s not because of anything to do with football ability, because Yerry is perfectly capable of doing that as well, as he’s proven.

” I did [ask Zouma about the possible transfer] a good few times. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like it was going to happen at any point really. I said ‘when are you coming?’”

Verdict

Zouma was a clear favourite of Silva last season, with the Portuguese handing the centre-back 29 starts in the Premier League while on loan at Goodison Park, and would likely have continued to back the 24-year-old had he made the switch permanent in the summer.

Mina showed signs that he could step up to fill the void in his rare outings last term, providing he could stay fit, too, with only Phil Jagielka – who made four league outings in 18/19 – penning more successful tackles (2) per ninety minutes than the Colombian (1.3) of Everton’s five centre-backs used (WhoScored), while Zouma ranked fourth with 1.1.

Mina also ranked higher than Zouma for clearances with 5.1 to 4.3, blocked passes, crosses and shots, and is currently matching his numbers for successful tackles this season, but has not seen his efforts rewarded with favourable results.

Everton fans, would Keane have kept his spot over Zouma had the Frenchman completed a permanent switch? Let us know in the comments below…

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Everton TT Roundup: Djibril Sidibe linked with AC Milan, Blues interested in Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Nunez, Michael Keane discusses failed move for Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma
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