Everton are on the verge of completing an £15 million deal to sign Valencia centre-back Aymen Abdennour, according to reports in Spain.
The Toffees signed Swansea captain Ashley Williams earlier this week after John Stones completed his £47.5 million move to Manchester City, while Sunderland’s Lamine Kone travelled to Merseyside to attempt to force through a move to Ronald Koeman’s side.
However, the Black Cats have taken a hard-lined approach towards the former Lorient defender, new manager David Moyes claiming that the club are prepared to offer the 27-year-old (below) a new contract in light of Everton’s reported £18 million bid, as reported by The Guardian.
Kone also started Sunderland’s Premier League opener against Manchester City on Saturday evening, a clear statement of intent from the Wearsiders.
This could push Everton in the direction of Morocco international Abdennour, who appears destined to leave Valencia only a year after joining from Monaco for a fee believed to be in the region of £20 million.
According to the Daily Mail, then-Premier League champions Chelsea had been keen to sign the 27-year-old (below) after a stellar campaign in Ligue 1 where he marshalled a Monaco defence that conceded just 26 goals all season, the best in the top flight.
However, Abdennour endured a horror debut season in La Liga, making a string of high-profile errors and eventually losing his place to Ruben Vezo and Aderlan Santos.
Abdennour particularly struggled with Valencia’s desire to play out from the back, twice losing possession in his own half to lead directly to an opposition goal.
Consequently, Los Che appear willing to cut their losses on the former Toulouse defender, with Everton at the front of an admittedly reduced queue for his signature, according to Onda Cero, as reported by Football Espana.
Unlike Roberto Martinez, Koeman is expected to build his new-look Everton team around a strong defensive core, having formulated one of the league’s tightest backlines during two years with Southampton.
Therefore, it is surprising that the Dutchman (below) views Abdennour as the solid presence needed to lead his defence after the high-profile departure of Stones.
Yet, the former Barcelona centre-half may be encouraged by his successful revitalisation of Toby Alderweireld, the Belgian international developing into one of the Premier League’s finest defenders after struggling to adapt in Spain with Atletico.
However, Koeman may have his work cut out if he is to restore a visibly nervy Abdennour to the sort of impeccable form that convinced Valencia to part with such a huge fee just 12 months ago.