By Wayne Veysey

16th Sep, 2021 | 6:00pm

Sources: Benitez working on luring 'world-class' star to Everton in January

Rafael Benitez’s transfer priority at Everton going into January is to sign a top centre-back, Football Insider can exclusively reveal.

The new Goodison manager has come to the same conclusion as his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti that there is no natural pairing among his current four central defenders.

An Everton source has told Football Insider that Benitez wants to upgrade and it his priority in January to recruit in that position.

Recruitment chief Marcel Brands is already working on providing Benitez with senior centre-back targets.

Benitez wants a “world-class” operator who can make the same impact as the likes of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool and Ruben Dias at Man City, the source added.

The profile Everton are looking for is an experienced operator who can read the game and lead the defence.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

Benitezcan already call upon four senior central defenders, three of whom were signed for £20million-plus fees.

But the manager does not believe there is an ideal pairing among the foursome of Michael Keane, Ben Godfrey, Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate.

Keane and Holgate started this season together in central defence against Southampton, before Mina replaced the 24-year-old against Leeds.

Holgate came back in to pair Keane against Brighton before Benitez turned to a three-man defence against Burnley on Monday instead of an orthodox back four.

On that occasion, Mina and Godfrey joined ever-present Keane in the starting XI.

Owner Farhad Moshiri is set to back Benitez in the transfer market next year after financial fair play restrictions reduced their spending to just £1.8million in the window just gone.

In other news, Brands is under fire from Everton chiefs after allowing sensation to quit.