By Wayne Veysey

26th Jul, 2016 | 7:18pm

Report: Everton step up pursuit of first major signing by meeting midfielder's release clause

By Coral Barry

Everton have met the release clause of Aston Villa midfielder Idrissa Gueye’s contract, but face competition from other clubs for his signature, according to a report.

The 26-year-old was one of the few shining lights at Villa last season after putting in a solid display in midfield during his debut campaign.

The Daily Mail claim that Gueye’s efforts have caught the eye of several Premier League clubs, who are looking to pounce on the fact the Senegal international has a relegation clause in his contract.

Gueye joined Villa for £9million last summer from France, but his release clause figure has diminished to £7.2million after the Midlands club slipped into the Championship at the end of last season.

Only former Leicester City midfielder N’Golo Kante completed more interceptions than Gueye last season and Ronald Koeman has identified him as his first major signing after sealing the capture of Maarten Stekelenburg from Fulham.

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Gueye has three years left on his current contract, but is reported to be open to a move away this summer and Everton are thought to be the first of his suitors to lodge a formal bid.

Vila could potentially hold out for a bigger sum should Gueye decide to assess his options and the club would hope they would have no problem encouraging a bidding war.

In other Villa news, the owner has revealed where he wants the Midlands club to be in four years time.