Everton consider bid for £18m-valued defender who turned down Barcelona - report
By Harvey Byrne
Everton are considering a bid for Las Palmas centre-back Mauricio Lemos, according to a report.
The Telegraph has claimed that the Toffees are eyeing the 21-year-old centre-back, but it is not certain that he would be granted a work permit in order to move to the Premier League.
It is detailed that the Merseysiders are believed to be looking into the situation as to whether it is worth pursuing their interest in the young Uruguayan, while it is further reported that Las Palmas value Lemos at around £18million and that he caught the attention of European giants Barcelona last summer.
But, Lemos has since told that he turned down a move to the Catalan club due to feeling that he wouldn’t be a regular for the famous side.
“The sporting director [Robert Fernandez] told me [Barca] were interested and that they were willing to give me an opportunity,” said Lemos, as quoted by ESPN.
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“But I was in contract talks with Las Palmas because I was only on loan from Rubin Kazan [with an option to buy] and if I didn’t sort things out I’d have had to go back to Russia. It was a tough summer. I didn’t know where my future would be.
“I spoke about it with my family and decided not to go [to Barcelona]. I felt it was for the best. Many players go due to the name of the club, but what are they going for? If one day I move to a big club like that, my intention is to be a regular.
“Of course, I know they’re a great team and any player would want to play there, but sometimes you have to leave to one side what the team represents and think about yourself.
“I knew that at Barcelona I wouldn’t get minutes. I don’t have any regrets. I made my decision and I stand by it. It’s my future and I am going to write it myself.”
Lemos has competed in 23 of of Las Palmas’ 37 La Liga matches this season and has played a big part in ensuring their survival in the Spanish top-flight.
But, he may now be looking for the next move in his career and with the Yellows looking to finish in 14th in La Liga, Everton who are set to finish in seventh in the Premier League may be the next step up.
Football Insider verdict:
Everton are currently playing with the experienced Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka as their two centre-backs and there is currently an air of uncertainty about how much longer the duo can go on for. Now, the signing of Lemos could be the perfect player to add to the Toffees defensive line due to his youthfulness. He mentions in his reasoning for turning down Barcelona that he wants game time and although manager Ronald Koeman may not be able to guarantee him that at first at Everton, he can certainly be awarded more pitch time than he would be afforded at Barcelona while learning from one of football’s great centre-backs. Therefore, Everton should definitely make a swoop if work permit rules allow.
In other Everton transfer news, Koeman is set to make an emphatic decision on future of senior Toffees men this week.