Everton manager Sam Allardyce is reportedly lining up moves for Crystal Palace forward Christian Benteke and Sevilla midfielder and rumoured Arsenal target Steven N'Zonzi as he bids to bring balance to a talented but lop-sided squad at Goodison Park.
The Toffees have found form in recent weeks and could move up to ninth in the Premier League table if they manage to beat lowly Swansea City at Goodison on Monday (18 December). But despite their recent resurgence under Allardyce, who is yet to taste defeat as Toffees boss, major surgery is required to a squad that is vastly overloaded in some areas but threadbare in others.
Allardyce confirmed recently that his priority is to bring in a striker next month, and the Mirror claim that his wish is to link up with Benteke once again. The former Liverpool forward ended his long wait for a goal against Leicester City on Saturday [16 December] and was linked with a move to Everton in the summer transfer window, but the Eagles will no doubt be reluctant to part with their first-choice striker without first drafting in an adequate replacement.
Along with Benteke, Allardyce is keen to bring N'Zonzi to Everton as he and director of football Steve Walsh search for added muscle in the heart of the Toffees' midfield. Former Blackburn and Stoke City star N'Zonzi has gone from strength-to-strength since joining Sevilla from the Potters in 2015, but he recently told of his desire to leave the Andalusians in January. The 29-year-old is also said to be of interest to Arsenal, but Allardyce is hoping to beat the Gunners to a player he tried to register for England during his brief spell in charge of the Three Lions.
N'Zonzi, who has a €40m release clause in his contract with Sevilla, recently fuelled speculation over a move to Arsenal when he travelled to London on his own, but the Frenchman confirmed that his visit was for family reasons.
Allardyce, who reportedly held talks with majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri over January targets last week, recently spoke about how little room for error there is for managers with regards to recruitment. He will endeavour to take extra care with his signings in order to give himself a strong chance of remaining in the Everton hotseat for next season amid lingering rumours that Moshiri will search for a more glamorous name in the coming months.
Allardyce's quest to bring balance to Everton's bloated squad is extremely difficult due to the amount of players that were brought in during the summer and lack of readily available replacements, but a deal that could be done rather swiftly is one for Sandro Ramirez, who is said to have designs on a return to Malaga.
Much was expected of the former Barcelona starlet when arrived from La Rosaleda for just £5.2m in the summer, but Sandro has barely played for the Toffees since September and is open to leaving the club in January amid interest from Valencia and his former side, whose manager Michel Gonzalez has made no secret of his wish to see the 22-year-old return.
"I'm hopeful," Michel was quoted as saying by Football Espana. "Players play where they want, and I think Sandro wants to come and play for Malaga again.
"From there, everything is subjective and depends on certain situations and negotiations."