Everton should sign Sunderland forward Jermain Defoe if Romelu Lukaku departs this summer, according to Danny Murphy. Both Defoe and Lukaku have been in fine form this season and are attracting interest from a host of clubs ahead of the upcoming window.
Everton are still hopeful of tying Lukaku down to a new long-term contract despite the Belgian recently rejecting their offer of a five-year deal worth £140,000-a-week. Sunderland, meanwhile, are set to lose 34-year-old Defoe on a free transfer, with relegation looming large.
While there is a substantial age gap between the reputable strikers, Murphy thinks Everton should snap up Sunderland's talisman if they lose the coveted Lukaku, and also highlighted Newcastle United as a potential destination for the former Tottenham star.
"Although Defoe will be 35 in October, he is still in great nick, he is firing in the goals — 14 this season — and has just got back in the England squad," Murphy wrote in his column for the London Evening Standard.
"This would be very controversial but you could see Newcastle looking at him if they won promotion. Perhaps if Everton lose Romelu Lukaku, they will decide Defoe would do a good job for them. Whatever happens to Sunderland, though, there is no way Defoe will be playing in the Championship next season."
Defoe is seen as Sunderland's only hope of avoiding relegation, but the Black Cats have not had any luck in recent weeks and will hope their fortunes change drastically when they host Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on Sunday. Everton, who almost defeated United at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening, will hope to get back to winning ways against a resurgent Leicester City at Goodison Park.
Despite the link to a 34-year-old in Defoe, Everton manager Ronald Koeman has been keen to blood youngsters during his first season on Merseyside. The former Southampton boss has afforded Mason Holgate, Tom Davies, Ademola Lookman, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Matty Pennington first-team opportunities already this season, and may hand 20-year-old defender Jonjoe Kenny a start against Craig Shakespeare's men with Ashley Williams suspended.