Muhamed Besic is one of a handful of fringe players that could leave Everton before the close of the January transfer window, with reports claiming that Championship play-off hopefuls Middlesbrough have entered into talks over a late swoop for the Bosnian midfielder.
The Liverpool Echo report that negotiations regarding a loan deal until the end of the season are only at a preliminary stage, with Everton boss Sam Allardyce having been clear with his intention to trim down a bloated 35-man first-team squad before Wednesday's (31 January) deadline.
Besic was brought to Goodison Park from Hungarian outfit Ferencvaros on a five-year contract by Roberto Martinez in the summer of 2014 after featuring in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina's matches at the World Cup in Brazil, but has been plagued by injury issues during his time on Merseyside.
Restricted to just 56 appearances in total across all competitions, the 25-year-old previously suffered with thigh and hamstring problems before tearing a cruciate ligament while playing in Wayne Rooney's testimonial in August 2016 and missing the entirety of last season.
Besic featured six times under Ronald Koeman earlier this term - twice in the Premier League - and made his first appearance for more than two months in November when he was introduced as a first-half substitute by caretaker boss David Unsworth for a heavy 3-0 loss at Lyon.
His only senior outing during Allardyce's tenure to date came in the Europa League meeting with Apollon Limassol on 7 December, a dead-rubber tie played shortly before the Merseyside derby that featured a much-weakened side led by first-team coach Craig Shakespeare.
Everton would like to offload Besic, previously pursued by Torino, before the market closes having already sanctioned the exits of Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon, while the likes of Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen could also depart after failing to establish themselves following summer moves from Malaga and Ajax respectively.
Tony Pulis, meanwhile, is hoping to bolster Middlesbrough's midfield options having allowed Adam Forshaw to join second-tier rivals Leeds United for a £4.5m ($6.3m) fee. Adam Clayton may also depart before the deadline amid interest from Nottingham Forest.
Leicester City stalwart Andy King has also been linked with a move to Teeside, where Pulis' side entertain Sheffield Wednesday later on Tuesday evening, while Manchester City have officially loaned England Under-21 winger and former Stoke City target Jack Harrison to 'Boro after completing a £4m deal with sister club New York City FC.