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1st Nov, 2017 | 12:50pm

Everton in two-way tussle with Italian giants for La Liga winner – report

By Guy Giles

Everton are set to miss out on signing Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen, with Inter Milan now the favourites to win the race for the Belgian defender, according to a report.

Italian outlet TMW report that Inter are closing in on a January loan deal for the former Arsenal man, who is looking for a way out of his Barcelona nightmare.

Vermaelen, 31, has only made one appearance this season for Barca after returning from a somewhat successful loan spell at Roma, and is worried that a lack of opportunities at the Catalan giants will see him lose out on a World Cup spot for Belgium.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti worked with Vermaelen at Roma last year and is keen for a reunion, so it looks like Everton will have to look elsewhere to solve their defensive problems.

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Vermaelen was one of the Premier League’s best centre backs during his time at Arsenal, but his move to Barcelona has been ill-fated and the Belgian has only made 22 appearances in three years at the club. Injuries have blighted Vermaelen for a while now but he looks to have overcome these problems as he tries to force a move away from the Nou Camp. Everton’s defensive problems this season are well-known, and a fit Vermaelen would be an asset to their struggling defence. However, his successful spell at Roma under Spalletti means that a move to Inter does seem most likely, especially considering Everton’s struggles so far this season.

In other Everton news, this young star has spoken out in defence of under-fire caretaker manager David Unsworth.

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