Everton could be set to sign Manchester United’s Chris Smalling – if the Toffees fail to land Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk.
Boss Ronald Koeman is eager to land an established centre-half who is the right side of 30.
Current duo Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka are 32 and 34 respectively, compared to 27-year-old Smalling.
Southampton’s Van Dijk appears to be the Toffees’ primary target, but the Dutchman unlikely to leave the club for less than £50m, which makes the Man United defender a far more realistic option.
The England international has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford under Jose Mourinho, with Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo forming a strong partnership of late.
And with Eric Bailly and Daley Blind also in Mourinho’s plans at centre-half, Smalling is very much out of favour.
And the continued talks of Benfica’s Victor Lindelof joining the club make it all but inevitable that Smalling’s time at United will end soon.
The former Fulham defender skippered United in their 2-1 win over Middlesbrough.
But that was more down to Mourinho’s decision to rest Jones and Rojo ahead of the trip to West Ham.
Smalling is valued at transfermarkt.co.uk at £17m, and with a contract running until 2019, Everton are unlikely to get the two-time Premier League winner for less than £20m.
But for a player who still has a good six or seven years left, that could prove a very savvy investment.
The Toffees get their 2017 campaign underway today, when they host Southampton.
And the bookies make Koeman’s side favourites at 5/4.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing