Everton are stepping up their bid to keep Mason Holgate by holding talks this week over a new contract, Football Insider can reveal.
This site first revealed last Thursday that Man City have placed Holgate top of their summer shopping list as Pep Guardiola scours the market for a centre-back with Premier League experience.
An Everton source has told Football Insider that recruitment chief Marcel Brands is working on a deal to keep City at bay and tie Holgate, 23, to a long-term contract.
Holgate’s current agreement expires in the summer of 2022, which has made Everton vulnerable to rival interest.
The versatile defender has seen his reputation and price tag rocket as a result of a series of assured performances in the heart of Carlo Ancelotti’s back line.
He has established himself as a regular starter ahead of England international Michael Keane and his valuation has soared from £14million just a few months ago to £40m.
Everton do not want to lose Holgate, or a repeat of the John Stones situation of 2016 when they were forced to sell him to City for £47.5m.
Ancelotti dismissed the chances of Everton cashing in on Holgate this summer at his media conference last Friday.
Ultimately, City’s pursuit will hinge on whether the Merseysiders are successful in tying him down to a new contract.
Brands is set to offer a major pay hike to fend off interest from City as well as Newcastle United, Bournemouth and Sheffield United.
Holgate began this campaign on the bench as Marco Silva chose Yerry Mina and Keane as his first choice partnership in central defence.
But he’s now started 17 of Everton’s last 18 Premier League matches after spending last season on loan at West Brom in the Championship.