Amadou Onana could be the £55m bargain in the Premier League midfield arms race

Everton midfielder Amadou Onana

Only three players made more tackles in the middle third of a Premier League pitch last season than Everton midfielder Amadou Onana.

The first was Fulham’s Joao Palhinha, who has a reported £90m price tag just a year after arriving in England for £20m.

The second was Moises Caicedo, the Brighton midfielder who has a value somewhere between £80m and £100m depending on whether the reporter is Chelsea-adjacent.

The third was Bruno Guimaraes, Newcastle’s priceless, unbuyable midfielder.

At 21, Onana is apparently available for just £55m from an Everton side who desperately need to sell and have very few assets worthy of the billing.

The £100m-rated Declan Rice was 19th, by the way, though we have to acknowledge that David Moyes’ tactics left him making far more tackles in his own defensive third. He should be a little further up the pitch for Arsenal or Manchester City.

If £55m for Onana did not already sound like a bargain, consider that his tackle success rate last season was 71.4%. No idea if that is good or bad? These are your comparisons: Palhinha (53%), Caicedo (58.8%) and Guimaraes (58.5%). So yes, it’s phenomenal.

Apparently Onana ‘absolutely’ wants to leave Everton his summer, having been made aware of interest from Chelsea among others and believes he is no longer on the ‘same wavelength’ as the Toffees, which is an incredibly diplomatic way of saying that they’re sh*t and he’s really not.

Having been lured onto the blue rocks by the siren song of Frank Lampard (“He played at the highest level, won many things and was a midfielder, too”), he is now eyeing the open water. Sean Dyche has talked ambitiously of turning him into a much taller Bryan Robson (Dyche would not be Dyche if he did not see a 6’5″ footballer and want him in the box) but the truth is that he is wasted in an Everton midfield that will function perfectly well with Idrissa Gueye, James Garner and the rejuvenated Abdoulaye Doucoure, the trio that put Brighton to the sword 5-1 in last season’s most bizarre result.

That’s not to say Onana is any better or worse than Caicedo – both have excelled in one season of Premier League football – but the gap is not £40m. The gap is purely because Brighton do not need to sell, but plan to sell, while Everton desperately need funds as they are in the footballing equivalent of special measures with the Premier League. Just as Chelsea are looking at book values, so are Everton and Onana is one of the few whose actual worth exceeds theirs.

That means they are asking for £55m rather than £75m or more despite the prices of defensive midfielders rivalling those of strikers this summer. They need a quick sale rather than a big sale. Which means that Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal (and likely West Ham, but Onana really could do better) should be looking towards Everton and not just be blinded by the rush to rub themselves up against that Brighton magic. Chelsea in particular should know that it doesn’t always transfer.