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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Joe Thomas

Striker search, Tom Davies interest, 'next to leave' and Everton transfer state of play

Everton’s attempt to boost Frank Lampard’s attacking options has entered a second week with work ongoing to improve his firepower.

Attacking recruits remain the priority, with the Blues boss previously explaining he hoped to be able to sign two forward players during the transfer window. Lampard understands there is a need to be savvy but has been told there is money to buy players and, while the club is keen to secure outgoings, he does not need to sell in order to buy.

Both permanent and loan markets are being explored however, nine days into the window and with rivals in the bottom half of the table having already started to strengthen, the recall of striker Ellis Simms from his Sunderland loan spell has been the only addition to the first team squad.

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Work for this month began before the World Cup with Lampard and director of football Kevin Thelwell having drawn up a list of targets to focus on following the final week of the domestic schedule in November. Since then, the most significant work has been on outgoings with Everton and Salomon Rondon agreeing to the mutual termination of his contract before Christmas. The Venezuela frontman’s contract was due to run to the summer but, having been used sparingly even when he was the only fit, recognised first team striker, it was clear he was not in Lampard’s plans.

Nathan Broadhead is expected to be the next player to depart. The 24-year-old striker scored five goals during his loan spell with Wigan Athletic but was recalled from the Championship side last week. This was a view to him completing a permanent deal, with talks with League One side Ipswich Town at an advanced stage. Broadhead, who joined the Blues' Academy aged 10, signed a two year deal with Everton as recently as August and his sale, reported to be for a seven figure sum, appears to be representative of the change of approach to the departure of academy players under Thelwell. Everton have let graduates leave at the end of their contracts in recent years rather than work to secure transfer fees, losing out on a potential revenue stream that has been useful to other clubs.

A number of Everton’s Under-21s are expected to be allowed to continue their development on loan during the second half of the year, with Tom Cannon coveted by sides in the Football League. The 19-year-old was involved in the Bournemouth league and cup games that ended the first section of the campaign and then got onto the pitch for the final minutes against Wolverhampton Wanderers. But with Simms having been recalled, Dominic Calvert-Lewin recovering from recent injury setbacks and Everton seeking new attacking recruits, Cannon is likely to be allowed to leave on loan this month.

Preston North End are among the clubs interested in the striker, whose season has seen him score goals against the youth sides of Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain and, in the Papa John’s Trophy, the senior teams of Hartlepool United, Morecambe, Mansfield Town and Lincoln City. He scored again on Friday, curling in a free-kick from 20 yards against West Ham United. Preston boss Ryan Lowe was present when Cannon struck against PSG and Mansfield. Lowe recently described Cannon as a “fantastic player”.

Of the first team, centre backs Mason Holgate and Michael Keane are both the subject of interest from Premier League clubs, while Tom Davies and Abdoulaye Doucoure are on contracts that have now entered their final six months. Davies is attracting the interest of Rangers, with manager Michael Beale recently saying of him and Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell: “Tom Davies, he used to kick my Liverpool Under 23s team all around the place. There’s a bit of John Lundstram about him. But again, two really good players. Not confirming anything with those two. But there’s a lot of players we are speaking to at the moment.”

Davies has found minutes hard to come by and his most impressive contribution this season came in the Merseyside derby. This could further interest Beale, who added: “I have to be excited about working with someone and the journey they are going on. I have to feel that they are someone who can come to Ibrox in front of 52,000 and really will grow and not shrink. That is the biggest question I have when I sit in front of a player – are they going to shrink at Ibrox or grow. We need growers and people who are going to come in in the next two or three years and help us win trophies and do well in Europe.” Davies recently told The Athletic: “I love the club and the city but ultimately I want to play games, whether that be at Everton or somewhere else. If I’m not going to get that here, it’s something I’m going to have to think about.”

Whether Everton would be willing to sanction the departure of the midfielders may have been impacted by the injury suffered by Alex Iwobi during the FA Cup clash with Manchester United. The 26-year-old faces an estimated three weeks out with ankle ligament damage and will miss the games with Southampton and West Ham. With James Garner still out with a back issue, Everton may be unwilling to allow either Davies or Doucoure to leave until at least the final week of the transfer window. The Blues have almost a fortnight between the West Ham game and their next fixture, against Arsenal. Injuries have blighted Lampard’s reign and he may also be reluctant to have his squad weakened when so many players have seen injury problems resurface on his watch.

Whether Isaac Price will gets further opportunities amid these issues remains unclear. The teenage centre midfielder has attracted attention from clubs on the continent after impressing for the first team during the Sydney Super Cup in November and entering the final six months of his contract. Everton are keen to keep him and he was brought on for the final stages of the defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion. Price, who with Cannon and Stanley Mills was heralded as part of the first team squad by Lampard after Christmas, was playing with the U21s as Everton’s senior squad was on FA Cup third round duty, however.

As keen as Lampard is for recruits there is an understanding Everton are operating within strict parameters and have to be savvy in their approach to deals. Anthony Elanga is a target on loan but is not likely to leave Man Utd until they get at least another forward through the door - which could soon happen as the club chases Burnley striker Wout Weghorst. Lampard, whose only new squad addition so far has been the returning Simms, has described the situation as “delicate” as he and Thelwell navigate trying to secure additions without abandoning the desire to only do responsible business. He explained: “We are trying to fight and improve in our way with, at times, different perimeters to everyone else. I feel I can say these things because I need to say them. I just need to work and not worry what the pressure is or the opinions I can’t control.”

One such deal that was beyond Everton was the move that took Matheus Cunha to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Everton were interested in the Atletico Madrid striker but he moved to Molineux after Julen Lopetegui’s side committed to spending £45m on him. While there was an acceptance business would be tricky this month and, post World Cup, patience would be needed, Wolves are not the only rival at the bottom end to have already strengthened. Southampton have secured the signing of winger Mislav Orsic and Leeds United the arrival of Max Wober.


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