Everton are plotting a hijacking of Arsenal’s deal for Brighton centre-back Ben White, according to reports.
Mikel Arteta has made White his top defensive target this summer and Arsenal were confident of sealing a £50 million transfer.
White is reportedly keen to join Arsenal, but the Daily Mail say Everton have now entered the race.
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Everton are fresh off appointing their new manager, Rafael Benitez, which went down as a controversial decision among fans.
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Benitez spent five years at Liverpool and has a long, often fraught relationship with Everton supporters and Everton are keen to back the Spaniard in the transfer market.
Everton have held talks with Brighton and are ready to make a £50m offer with an additional £5m in add-ons.
It is an improvement on the bid Arsenal lodged last week - £42m plus £4m in add-ons – and matches Brighton’s asking price of £50m.
Everton are yet to formally bid for White, but the Toffees have told Brighton they are willing to pay £20m upfront for the centre-back and spread the remaining £30m over the four years.
White has already asked Brighton to facilitate a big move and has been left impressed with Everton’s sudden interest in him and the speed at which they are negotiating with Brighton.
Benitez was given the assurances he was looking for from the Everton board over transfers before he penned a three-year deal this week.
Everton promised to back Benitez in the transfer market and a swoop for White would surely go down well with the Toffee faithful.
Benitez has not always seen eye-to-eye with Everton fans and he admitted his first task is to win over the supporters.
“I love the passion of the people behind the club. I know the city, I know Scousers, I know what it means for every fan here to compete and to have the chance to win,” he said.
To come to Everton is something that means a lot, for sure.
“You can see the ambition of the owner, of the Board, everybody wants to be better and to go to the new stadium with a massive boost.
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“I like to compete. I like to win. I came from the academy at Real Madrid [as a young player and coach], and the winning mentality is already there.
“We [myself and my coaching staff] have won 13 titles because we have this mentality and I still want to win.
“And I have come to Everton because I liked the idea to be competitive again – and to have the chance to compete in every game, to compete against anyone.”
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