Everton unearth Juventus defender as Stones replacement

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Everton are yet to make a real splash in the transfer market with their newly-gained Iranian investment, but it isn’t for the want of trying.

After using financial muscle to prise Ronald Koeman away from Southampton’s dugout, rumours surrounding the Merseyside club have been regular and varied.

Juan Mata, Axel Witsel, Kamil Grosicki, Tim Krul and Virgil van Dijk have all been linked with a switch to Goodison Park and now there’s a Juventus defender to add to the list.

Centre-half Daniele Rugani is a reported £25.5m target for the Toffees this summer, quite possibly as a replacement for the sought-after John Stones, who continues to be courted by a number of elite clubs.

At 21 years old, Rugani certainly shapes up as a direct substitute for Stones from an age perspective, while his style of play also mirrors that of the Three Lions Euro 2016 squad member.

Despite sitting behind vaunted trio Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli in Turin, the Italian still managed to log over 1000 Serie A minutes last season.

In that time the former Empoli youth product made 60.9 passes per 90 minutes. That was the sixth-highest mark in the Juve squad and was over 10 passes-per-90 better than noted ball-player Stones.

Without the ball at his feet, tackling is the U21 international’s bag. Rugani recorded more of them in his 17 appearances last term (29) than he did interceptions (23) and aerial duels won (22).

A per-90-minute tackle average of 2.2 would have put him ahead of all of Everton’s current centre-back options last season, the leader of whom was Phil Jagielka with 1.8.

Based on those numbers Rugani would clearly add something to Everton’s squad. However, a spot in the Juventus first team may open up should Bonucci be sold, leaving the youngster first in line to take over and the Toffees without their Italian Stones.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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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.