Everton will need to move fast if they are to firm up their interest in defender Ismael Doukoure as French club Strasbourg appear to have stolen a march on their rivals.
The 17-year-old has been turning heads with his displays for Ligue 2 outfit Valenciennes. After making his senior debut against Sochaux in October last year, the youngster has now enjoyed 11 starts among 19 appearances. The centre-back has made 22 appearances in all competitions and many clubs have taken note.
The Toffees were linked back in March while Arsenal and Leicester City were also credited with an interest. However, the likes of Lyon, Marseille, Saint-Etienne and Rennes have now also been mentioned as possible suitors.
It looks set to be a busy summer for his agent, with an exit from Stade du Hainaut seemingly likely. And, with that in mind, Strasbourg have looked to jump the gun and opened talks already.
French outlet Foot Mercato are reporting that the starlet’s father has held ‘positive’ talks with head of recruitment Loic Desire. They seem happy to do business but that may all change if the big-hitters start to flex their muscles.
Valenciennes will clearly try to get as much as thy can for Doukoure but it will be down to the player’s ambitions. It is likely that he would spend most of his time in the Under-23s at the Premier League clubs.
He may be seen in cup competitions but the English top flight is a huge step up from the second-tier of French football. Therefore a move to one of the French clubs mentioned might appeal.
Doukoure likened to Bayern recruit
The teenager has already gained a reputation as a classy defender in the European game. Manager Olivier Guegan has not been afraid to throw him in at the deep end despite his tender years.
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And he has been compared to Dayot Upamecano, who will leave RB Leipzig to join Bayern Munich this summer. That is high praise, as Upamecano has already been capped three times by France and is tipped as a superstar.
Doukoure is another player seemingly with the footballing world at his feet. His next move will be crucial in his development and it remains to be seen if he ends up in the Premier League.
The pandemic means that finances are tight and clubs will be looking for bargains in the off-season. It is not known how much any suitor would need to pay but he would certainly not break the bank.