By Sean Fisher

22nd Dec, 2022 | 2:20pm

Everton in hunt to sign £7m-rated Almeria defender Sergio Akieme

Everton are involved in a three-horse race for £7million-rated Almeria defender Sergio Akieme, according to Estadio Deportivo.

Ruben Vinagre’s move to Everton in the summer has fallen completely flat, with the Portuguese left-back only making two appearances for the Toffees this season.

Vitaliy Mykolenko has been Frank Lampard’s first choice at left-back this season, but it seems he might dip into the January transfer window to strengthen his defensive department.

According to Estadio Deportivo, Everton are among three Premier League clubs eyeing up 25-year-old left-back Akieme.

According to the report, Everton, Crystal Palace and Brighton are all interested in the former Barcelona prospect, with his market value sitting at £7million following his impressive spell with Almeria.

It is understood that the player wants to leave the La Liga club for a move to England.

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To hear Everton linked with another defender is worrying.

Lampard seems to have found a nice balance in his backline when everyone is fit, with Nathan Patterson and Mykolenko complementing the central pair of Conor Coady and James Tarkowski nicely.

The Toffees boast a defensive record comparable with teams topping the league table. It’s not in defence where the side have struggled.

The club should be using January to add more creativity and firepower to the squad. The team is crying out for a new striker and playmaker – spending part of what is a limited transfer budget on a left-back seems nonsensical.

A quick glance at the Premier League stats tells you all you need to know. Everton have only conceded 17 goals in 15 games this season – only the top three teams in the league have conceded less. But the 11 goals scored is a real worry. Only 20th-placed Wolves have scored less (8).

Everton still haven’t recovered from losing Richarlison in the summer and Lampard needs to find a new striker capable of replacing his goals as Neal Maupay has already proved unreliable in that sense.

If the club get through January without bringing in a new forward then they may live to regret it.