Barcelona were reportedly turned down by John Stones earlier this month, but apparently the England man isn’t the only Everton centre-half to take their fancy.
Argentina’s Ramiro Funes Mori is also on the Spanish club’s long-term watch list.
“He’s a good player and we’ve known him well for a long time, but we’re not going to sign him this summer,” Blaugrana sporting director Robert Fernandez told Sport while in the United States to watch the Copa America.
According to the Liverpool Echo Funes Mori’s passing ability and comfort on the ball are the chief reasons for the Camp Nou watching brief.
The Argentine’s knack of finding the net – he struck five times in 37 games across all competitions for the Toffees in 2015/16 – is another positive aspect of his game that cannot have escaped the Catalan talent spotters’ attention.
However, a closer glance at his contribution to the Everton cause last term suggests Barca may need to buy a new pair of binoculars.
In terms of both average passes per league game and pass completion percentage he falls behind Goodison Park teammates Phil Jagielka and Stones.
Funes Mori averaged 44.2 an outing at success rate of 83.8%, with veteran Jagielka posting figures of 49.2 and 84.3% and the younger Englishman carding a mean of 47.4 at 88.7%.
His defending for an Everton side that finished last term with the joint-sixth worst defence in the Premier League has also been marred by inconsistencies of positioning, concentration and discipline.
The 25-year-old’s share of culpability for the Toffees’ porousness is all the higher given Gareth Barry’s main role in front of his center-halves is to lessen the degree to which they were exposed.
Everton are 11/1 for a top-four finish in 2016/17, a goal that the Barcelona target is sure to both support and undermine in equal measure across the campaign ahead.