Everton are reportedly targeting La Liga centre-half, Mauricio Lemos, this summer as manager Ronald Koeman prepares for life in the Europa League. The Merseyside club has had a brilliant second half of the season after some prudent acquisitions in the last winter transfer window and they would like to continue it this summer.
The defence, which was one of the stronger suits for the Toffees until a few months back, is now their weakest link. It all started with the horrific injury to right back Seamus Coleman that has sidelined him for a long time the last international break. Even before Everton could recover from that, Funes Mori was added to the long-term injury list.
Thanks to Everton’s old man Phil Jagielka, Koeman was able to fend off some sturdy opponents in the closing weeks of the Premier League. However, Jagielka is expected to depart from Goodison Park at the end of the season as the manager aims to inject fresh blood to the side and Lemos’ emergence as one of the hottest prospects in that role has caught Koeman’s attention.
Everton have conceded a decent 41 goals this season, which is lesser than the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool. It is indicative of how compact Koeman keeps his back line that can only improve with the inclusion of Lemos. The Uruguayan has been a more or less regular for Las Palmas, scoring five goals in 23 outings.
At just 21, he doesn’t have the proper experience to be relied upon in big games, but La Liga giants Barcelona are keen on acquiring him after closely assessing him this season. Though it makes things difficult for the Toffees, they are moving for some mammoth buys this summer after a breakthrough season.
Reportedly, Everton are getting down in the rat race with a whopping £75 million budget and Las Palmas’ prized possession is likely to cost them around £18 million. A product of Uruguayan’s first tier side Defensor Sporting Club, Lemos moved to Russian side Rubin Kazan in 2015 after spending a loan stint with them. He went through a similar drill before he joined La Liga side Las Palmas the immediate summer.
He has been impressive throughout for the national side, getting a chance both at the Under-20 and Under-23 level so far but is yet to break into the first team. Work permit also could be a huge problem for Everton, but reports claim they are already looking into the situation.
According to the Telegraph, the new guidelines released in 2015 states that work permit hinges on the number of international appearances a player has made or scoring four or more points from a list of guidelines, which could help them get an exemption.