Athletic Bilbao defender Unai Nunez is keen to leave the La Liga outfit in January after a tough start to the season, according to AS Diario.
Everton have been linked with the 22-year-old recently by the Daily Mail, and AS supports the English newspaper’s claims of a £30m release clause in the centre-back’s contract.
It was suggested by the Daily Mail that Everton and Arsenal are ready to battle it out for Nunez’s signature, with both clubs keen on the one-time Spain international who helped his country lift the U21 European Championship crown this summer.
Nunez has struggled to establish himself at Bilbao since domestic action recommenced, though, as Los Leones boss Gaizka Garitano has preferred Yeray Alvarez and Inigo Martinez since the latter’s return from injury.
Garitano had turned to Nunez for the first two games of the La Liga season, but has only awarded the Portugalete-born defender one further league outing in the following eight matches (TransferMarkt).
The situation has seen Nunez consider his position in Garitano’s plans, and is now ready to leave San Mames in the January window in the hope of landing a regular first-team role.
He has also parted company with his former agent and joined the Valencia-based Leaderbrocks Sports, who also represent Crystal Palace’s Victor Camarasa, Valencia’s Ferran Torres and Sevilla’s Joan Jordan.
AS cites the Daily Mail’s report of Arsenal and Everton’s interest, but note that no side have shown interest in Nunez’s services of late, and add that the €30m (£25.9m) buy-out clause inserted in his contract scared off Premier League interest from Watford, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City last season.
Nunez is ‘waiting’ for an offer to leave Bilbao, as his ambitions can only be met if he is playing regularly.
Given Palace, Watford and Cardiff walked away when quoted Nunez’s buy-out clause last season, it would appear that €30m would be the fee Everton would have to pay if Director of Football Marcel Brands were to target the Spaniard.
Whether that is good value for money would remain to be seen, but the 22-year-old did help to a 1-0 win over FC Barcelona on the opening day of the season, making four clearances, winning his sole attempted tackle and penning Bilbao’s second-best pass accuracy rating at 84%, per WhoScored data.
Nunez’s subsequent outing against Getafe also saw the one-time Spain international record three interceptions and eight clearances, before returning for his third outing at Leganes with six clearances and 90 passes.
Marco Silva has trusted his centre-backs to play it out of defence this season, with Yerry Mina and Michael Keane topping the Toffees’ passing chart with 455 and 451 respectively.
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