Premier League • England

Benitez explains logic behind latest Everton signing; hints more could follow

Rafa Benitez Everton

Rafael Benitez believes Everton have been building for the better of the club during the January transfer window, hinting they may still have further signings to make.

Everton have been one of the busiest Premier League clubs in January so far. They have signed Vitaliy Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson on permanent deals, and Anwar El Ghazi on loan. The latter came from Aston Villa, who signed Lucas Digne from the Toffees at the same time.

After a relatively low-spending yet useful summer, Everton have given more backing to Benitez this month. Given their slump in fortunes in recent months, he will hope the new squad dynamic can inspire better results.

Speaking ahead of their visit to Norwich City on Saturday – and for the first time since the El Ghazi and Digne deals went through – Benitez provided an update on their transfer activity.

Welcoming El Ghazi to the club, he explained why it made sense for them to add the Dutch winger.

“It was part of the deal with Digne when we started the conversations,” Benitez said.

“Thinking about the Covid situation, possible injuries and the Africa Cup of Nations, it was the possibility to bring in someone with quality that could give us options.

“The good thing is because it’s a loan with an option so the player has to prove himself.

Everton offered Alexis Sanchez from Inter Milan for free

Everton have been offered Alexis Sanchez for free from Inter Milan as replacement for Calvert Lewin

“So I think it’s a win win situation if he’s doing well then everyone will be happy and I think that is a positive thing.

“We have more quality in the squad and more competition.”

Even so, the loss of Digne has been a lingering issue for Everton for a while. He reportedly clashed with Benitez in a training session, after which he never played for the club again.

Rafa Benitez hugging Lucas Digne

Losing a player of his experience and quality is a blow, but they have added Mykolenko in his place. And the manager thinks it is a positive to replenish the ranks with a younger option.

“The reality is that if you have a player who thinking about leaving and you have an offer, the main thing for me as a manager is it to think about my responsibilities to make decisions for the best for the team and the club and future,” Benitez explained.

“We bought a couple of young players who are good and hungry. I am sure they will be good now and even better in future.

“In the end it is positive for the club when you sell a player who is 29 next year and bring in player who is 22 and in different positions that we needed to balance.”

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Benitez ‘open’ to bringing in more players

And Benitez hinted that there could be further activity in the transfer market before the deadline if they can find the right opportunity.

“We are always hoping to strengthen the squad,” he admitted. “We will try and do the best for us.

“The reality is that we balance the books and it will be positive for the future. We will be open to options.

“It’s good we brought in three players and we have to make sure competition allows us to win games.

“We are open minded. And if we can bring anyone else who can help the team we are happy to do that.”

Elsewhere in his press conference, Benitez confirmed that Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jarrad Branthwaite, Fabian Delph, Yerry Mina and Richarlison had all been back in training as of Thursday.

However, Tom Davies will be out for “one or two months” after having an operation.

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