By Dan Carter

13th Sep, 2023 | 7:40pm

Everton transfer news as Toffees hold 'strong interest' in free-agent Xeka

Everton are one of a number of Premier League clubs interested in signing former Rennes midfielder Xeka, according to Team Talk.

James Holland reported via the website on Wednesday (13 September) that the Toffees were joined by Crystal Palace, Wolves and Sheffield United in holding a “strong interest” in the former Portugal youth international, who is without a club having left Rennes at the end of last season.

The 28-year-old was a part of the Lille side that beat Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title in the 2020-21 campaign and played 144 times for the French side before spending last season with Rennes. He was released having struggled with injury and having to undergo ankle surgery in January.

There is no shortage of potential suitors hoping to sign Xeka with interest from the Championship as well, with both Southampton and West Brom having reportedly contacted the midfielder’s agent to discuss a potential deal

Injury concern

While dipping into the free-agent market may not be a bad idea for the Toffees in the coming weeks, it seems an unnecessary risk to sign a player who has had as difficult a time in terms of fitness in recent seasons as Xeka, especially when finances are tight.

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It finally looks as though Everton may be getting Andre Gomes’ huge wage off of their books with the Portuguese international of interest to Besiktas and it would be a strange decision to replace one outgoing injury-ridden Portuguese midfielder with another.

Centre-midfield is one area of the pitch that Sean Dyche’s side are well-stocked, with Idrissa Gana Gueye, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Amadou Onana all regular fixtures at Goodison Park, while James Garner is more than capable of doing a job in the middle of the park.

If Xeka is being targeted just to provide a bit of depth and cover for the regular midfielders on Merseyside and would be on a fairly reasonable wage, it could be a deal that makes sense in the short term as Dyche tries to turn around the Toffees’ poor form.

If Everton are going to add to their squad via the free agent market, they may be better off looking at more defensive options, however.

In other Everton news, Italian newspapers have slammed Mykolenko’s performance in Ukraine’s defeat to Italy