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Everton told Yerry Mina he was free to leave the Premier League outfit in the summer transfer window, with The Athletic pointing out his injury record remains a concern at Goodison Park. 

As the Toffees suffered their first home defeat of the Rafa Benitez era against West Ham United yesterday, it was an energy-sapping, jet-lagging South American sojourn that left Mina on the sidelines rather than a return to the litany of fitness problems that have dogged his Everton career. 

Ben Godfrey and Michael Keane started in the Colombian international’s absence. 

And while they held their own – restricting the usually irrepressible Michail Antonio to spectator status during a tense encounter short on clear-cut chances – Mina’s absence was clear to see as Angelo Ogbonna flicked home the winner from a corner with 74 minutes on the clock. 

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You get the feeling if 6ft 5in Mina had been in the penalty area, Ogbonna wouldn’t have had it quite so easy.  

Yerry Mina becoming a key player for Everton under Benitez

Snapped up from Barcelona in a £28 million deal after the 2018 World Cup, Mina has often struggled to live up to his hefty price tag on the blue half of Merseyside.  

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

According to The Athletic, the 27-year-old was told in the summer he was free to find a new club.

Everton were desperate to reduce their crippling wage bill and Mina, one of the club’s highest earners on a reported £120,000 a week, appeared ripe for slaughter, his worrying injury history leaving him – rather than fellow centre-halves Keane or Mason Holgate – in the firing line. 

If reports are to be believed, Mina had his heart set, for a while at least, on a move to Serie A. 

For now, however, the late-blooming man mountain remains an Everton player and, on the evidence of his absence on Sunday afternoon, he’s evolving from a £28 million misfit into a key cog in the Benitez blueprint.

Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images

In other news, ‘Incredible’: Thomas Tuchel ‘impressed’ by £19m West Ham player