By George Overhill

25th Nov, 2022 | 9:10pm

Everton target Boulaye Dia race heats up despite £10million loan option amid key Senegal strike

Everton target Boulaye Dia is now interesting four Premier League sides after he ended Senegal’s World Cup goal drought, Ben Jacobs reports.

The 26-year-old lashed home his country’s first goal at the tournament, and their first in 340 minutes of World Cup action dating back to 2018, to open the scoring in an eventual 3-1 victory agains the hosts on Friday (25 November).

Tutto Salernitana reported on 12 October that the Toffees had been in contact with Villarreal about a possible deal, offering close to £14million, while the Serie A side has a £10million option to make his loan permanent, and Jacobs now says the English interest is spreading.

Writing on Twitter after Dia put his side ahead in Qatar, CBS journalist Jacobs said: “Boulaye Dia scores Senegal’s first World Cup goal.

“He also has six goals in Serie A for Salernitana, where he’s on-loan from Villarreal. Salernitana have an option to buy for £10m. Leeds, Everton, West Ham and Leicester all keeping tabs on him, too.”

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Having eased the tension for Senegal and helped pave the way for a first win in Qatar which may keep his side in the tournament, Dia has started to back up his strong form in Italy on the international stage.

That is bound to increase his price tag, as well as the chances that Salernitana would be tempted to take advantage of their opportunity to land him for just £10million.

That doesn’t necessarily mean he is out of Everton’s reach, as the Italians could easily sign him with a view to immediately moving him onto the Premier League for a few million in immediate profit.

But a race between four top flight sides won’t be want Frank Lampard wants to hear as he will know that there is unlikely to be a huge amount to spend in the near future.

However, Leicester’s money problems have been widely documented, while West Ham spent heavily in the summer and Leeds’ net-spend was minimal, raising questions over the current ownership’s willingness or ability to shell out, so the door could still be open for the Toffees.

What will be frustrating for the hierarchy at Goodison Park is this appears to be the latest in a number of transfer attempts that the club have made just before a player’s value has spiked, without being able to get them over the line.

Having been blocked from signing Mohammed Kudus from Ajax, and fallen short in their offer for Shakhtar’s Mykhailo Mudryk, before the price of both shot up this season, Dia looks like a reasonable option to help ease the attacking concerns at Everton with six goals and two assists this year.

But further success in Qatar, and increasing interest from rivals, might now push his value past the level the club wanted to spend.