Sheffield United are one of three clubs linked with a move for Everton’s Mason Holgate, but their chances of signing him might depend on the identity of the Toffees’ next manager.
The Barnsley product has started the Toffees’ last nine matches but faces renewed competition with right-back Seamus Coleman returning from injury at the weekend.
Holgate can play at right-back, central defence and in midfield. Chris Wilder has been open about targeting “two or three” January signings and while he will not say which positions, he lacks cover at centre-back and wing-back.
Phil Jagielka showed against Manchester United he can be a like-for-like replacement for John Egan in the middle of a back three but his less orthodox overlapping centre-backs are harder to replace. Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell have been Premier League ever-presents this season, but Richard Stearman and Kean Bryan played there in the League Cup.
Jack Rodwell has also been training with Wilder’s side.
The former Everton and Manchester City player won his three England caps as a central midfielder, but was seen by David Moyes as a future England centre-back when he first broke into senior football, and mainly played there for Blackburn Rovers last season.
The 28-year-old was offered a new contract at Ewood Park in the summer but rejected it, and is a free agent after a move to Roma fell through.
Newcastle United and Bournemouth have also been linked with 23-year-old Holgate, valued at £14m by Everton.
Holgate joined Everton from Barnsley for £2m in 2015 and has started 41 matches, plus 19 on loan at West Bromwich Albion.
Caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson has won one and drawn the other of his two matches but does not want the job permanently, insisting Everton “need the best manager in the world.”
Moyes, who has a reputation for favouring young British players, has been linked with a return, as has former midfielder Mikel Arteta. Carlo Ancelotti, recently sacked by Napoli, is also thought to have come under consideration but with Arsenal in the market too, second-guessing the identity of Everton’s next manager is not easy, never mind his attitude towards keeping Holgate.