Leeds United are planning to sign Everton's Matthew Pennington in the summer after being impressed by the centre-back's performances since arriving at Elland Road on a season-long loan.
Pennington has featured sporadically for Thomas Christiansen's side, who are looking to strengthen with fresh additions before the close of the January transfer window. The 23-year-old suffered an ankle problem on the first day of the season before being dropped by Christiansen in November, though he may be handed a rare start against Hull City on Tuesday (30 January), with Liam Cooper serving a three-match suspension after being sent off in the crazy 4-3 defeat by Millwall.
Christiansen has preferred Cooper and Pontus Jansson to Pennington in recent months, but the powers that be at Elland Road have seen enough for the one-time England youth international to sanction a permanent transfer, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Pennington's loan deal with Leeds does not include an option to make the move permanent but they are still hopeful of concluding a deal with Everton, who themselves want to sign a new centre-back in the summer as they seek to replace the ageing pair of Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams.
Everton did sign Michael Keane from Burnley in a deal worth around £31m and have been encouraged by the recent development of Mason Holgate, but with Jagielka and Williams set to turn 36 and 34 this year, a new centre-back is of high priority for Sam Allardyce's side.
Pennington may hope he can be the man to step into the defensive breach for the club he joined aged 11, but Everton are seemingly looking at other options and have recently been linked with £25m and £18m moves for Swansea City's Alfie Mawson and Lille defender Adama Soumaoro.
Pennington was highly rated by former manager Ronald Koeman, who saw fit to offer him a two-and-a-half year contract last season, but the former Walsall loanee will soon have to decide whether to fight for his place at Goodison Park or continue to ply his trade at Elland Road, where a starting place is far from assured.