Everton well positioned to land Wilfried Zaha after Arsenal reach Nicolas Pepe agreement


EVERTON are holding hope that Arsenal’s agreement with Nicolas Pepe could leave them a free run to complete a club record deal for Wilfried Zaha.

Arsenal chiefs have struck a deal worth £72million plus add-ons with Lille to sign the Ivorian winger, who has been away at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Lille president Gerard Lopez confirmed earlier this week that four clubs had matched their valuation for the winger and that it would be left to the 24-year-old and his entourage to decide on his next club.

It now looks as if a potential deal could be concluded in the next 48 hours as the Gunners moved ahead of Napoli in the race to sign the forward, who struck 22 goals in Ligue 1 last season.

The deal could have implications on Arsenal’s pursuit of top target Wilfried Zaha, who favours a move to the Emirates Stadium.

In the past few weeks, Unai Emery has seen two bids rejected by Crystal Palace who are refusing to budge on their £80m asking price.

Everton have emerged as surprises contenders for the 26-year-old and they will be hoping Arsenal’s agreement with Pepe spells the end of their interest.

Arsenal were understood to only have around £40m to spend this summer, although many believe they’re using that as a bargaining chip during negotiations with other clubs for top targets.

The club’s director Vinai Venkatesham has since dismissed the reported figure.

“I don’t recognise this £40m figure, I have read it a lot,” he said during the annual supporters’ clubs Q&A.

“We never ever, ever, ever talk about how much money we have to spend because that’s the least helpful thing you can do. It is true that our funds are more limited after three years in the Europa League, but the budget isn’t £40m.”

The structure of the Pepe deal allows Arsenal to pay in instalments to fit in with their budget, it would come as a great surprise if they were able to afford both him and his international team-mate Zaha.

Goodson Park executives are reportedly set to offer £60million plus Cenk Tosun to Crystal Palace.

While it is still below the £80m mark, the Turkish striker is a player they have tried to sign previously on three occasions.

Palace failed with two offers for Tosun while he was at Besiktas in August 2017 and January 2018, before later having a loan enquiry turned away by the Toffees in this year’s winter window.

Roy Hodgson is looking to add a striker to his ranks before the August 8 deadline with Michy Batshuayi set to be given a chance to revive his Chelsea career under Frank Lampard.

Zaha has made it clear that he intends to leave Selhurst Park before the new season to play Champions League football.

Neither of his potential buyers are able to offer that as of yet, Palace know they’re fighting a losing battle trying to keep him and maybe resigned to admit defeat with their squad desperate for reinvestment.

While Everton are not a top six club as of yet, they have shown huge ambition for the future after unveiling plans for their new £500m Bramley Moore Stadium in Liverpool docklands.

Marco Silva would make Zaha the face of his project as the club dream of bringing Champions League football to the blue half of Merseyside.


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