Everton hope first-team gap helps them land Juventus defender


Having bolstered his midfield this summer with the signings of Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu, Roberto Martinez has turned his attentions to adding some man power to a defensive unit that has lost two senior statesmen in Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz.

That unit’s standards slipped considerably last season compared to other campaigns. The 50 goals the Toffees conceded was 11 more than the term before, Martinez’s first in charge, and the club’s worst defensive record in 11 straight Premier League seasons.

It’s understandable, then, that Martinez would like to strengthen at the back, although he is running the risk of missing out on his first-choice recruit.

Italy defender Angelo Ogbonna is the former Wigan manager’s recruit of choice, but the 27-year-old is also keenly pursued by West Ham and Southampton.

The £8m-rated Juventus man has reportedly been the subject of a bid from the Hammers and would have the chance to play European football with the Saints, yet neither factor has deterred Martinez from the trail.

With only John Stones and Phil Jagielka remaining as senior centre backs at Goodison Park ahead of the new season, the Merseyside club could argue that joining them would provide Ogbonna with more regular playing opportunities.

West Ham have James Tomkins, Winston Reid and James Collins to call on while Southampton are trying their best to bring back Toby Alderweireld after last season’s successful loan.

Having only made 41 appearances for the Old Lady since signing for the club in 2013, Ogbonna – an unused substitute in last season’s Champions League final – could well jump at the chance to feature more regularly in an Everton shirt.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.