Few would have expected that Everton, ambitious Everton bankrolled by a billionaire and managed by the Barcelona-boss-in-waiting, would be heading into the summer transfer market with a long-term replacement for Tony Hibbert towards the top of their list of priorities, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Since the one-club stalwart was released by the club at the start of the season, Seamus Coleman has ploughed a lone furrow at right-back with a lack of alternatives in reserves. Thankfully, the Republic of Ireland international has been as consistent as ever at both ends of the pitch.
However, with Everton seemingly certain to qualify for the Europa League next season, even a player of Coleman’s energy may struggle to balance the Thursday-Sunday schedule across a number of months.
Therefore, according to the Liverpool Echo, Ronald Koeman is making a new right-back a primary concern. Nonetheless, the names linked with The Toffees have been far from inspiring, from Manchester City’s veteran defender Bacary Sagna to Ahmed ‘relegation battle’ Elmohamady.
Perhaps Dutch legend Koeman should instead return to a market he knows and trusts instead. During his two years at Southampton, the manager plucked Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Cuco Martina from the Eredivisie while former VVV Venlo centre-back Maya Yoshida (below) developed into a trusted member of the squad.
And, despite Everton’s riches, he may be tempted to repeat the trick. 25-year-old AZ Alkmaar right-back Mattias Johansson is one of the most accomplished in his position in the league, his rampaging runs from the flank not too dissimilar to the style best embodied by Cedric Soares, another Koeman signing at Southampton.
A three-time Sweden international, Johansson is also an impressive one-on-one defender with good reading off the game and well-timed tackles. He’s also out of contract at the end of the season and his experience in the Europa League could make him a useful addition to a squad fighting on two fronts next season.
Johansson may not be the marquee signing Everton, and Romelu Lukaku, are looking for. But there’s a reason why Koeman is so respected for his talent-spotting abilities.