Everton have set their sights on signing Wigan centre-forward Joe Gelhardt before he turns 18 in May, Football Insider understands.
The Merseyside big spenders are among a clutch of elite Premier League clubs including Liverpool who are closely monitoring the wonderkid’s situation.
An Everton source has told Football Insider that the club are readying a move for Gelhardt despite the uncertainties caused by football’s suspension.
The rising star has been watched closely by Marcel Brands’ network of scouts this season and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
However, Everton know they face strong competition from close to home for the signature of Gelhardt.
Football Insider first revealed last September that Liverpool were keeping close tabs on the highly rated forward, while there is also interest in him from Chelsea and Man United.
He signed a new contract last November with Wigan, six months after he had turned 17.
The Championship club are not able to tie Gelhardt down to a long-term deal until his 18th birthday on 4 May, which provides an opening for his Premier League suitors.
He has demonstrated his immense potential during 16 Wigan first-team appearances this season after being promoted from their youth ranks.
Most of those have come as a substitute, and he has made just two senior starts to date and scored a single goal, which came in the Championship against Hull City.
Gelhardt has scored frequently at youth-team level for Wigan and England, netting three times in six appearances at Under-18 level.
In other Everton news, it can be REVEALED that the club have agreed terms of blockbuster £19.4m new deal + bonuses.