Everton are reportedly set to battle it out with fellow Premier League side Crystal Palace in the race to sign 25-year-old Almeria fullback Sergio Akieme.

According to Estadio Deportivo, Everton and Crystal Palace are involved in a three-horse race for €7.5 million-rated Almeria defender Sergio Akieme.

Akieme progressed through the youth academy at Rayo Vallecano before making his debut at the age of 18 and managing to make 13 first-team appearances. The fullback was plucked by Barcelona in the summer of 2019. However, he only predominantly featured for Barcelona B in the lower tiers of the Spanish pyramid.

After only one season with Barcelona, he joined Almeria on loan with a €3.5 million buyout option. His loan spell at Almeria in Spain’s second division was a huge success, with Akieme featuring 36 times and providing five goal involvements, prompting Almeria to activate his purchase clause.

Since then, the Madrid-born left-back has proved to be a vital first-team player for Almeria and has bagged three goals and five assists in 86 outings. While he has yet to score or assist this season, he has been a reliable attacking threat for his side throughout his career, which is reflected by the underlying numbers as he ranks in the top 15 percentile of full-backs for shots taken and dribbles completed.

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While Almeria aren’t under any pressure to sell their prized asset, they could be enticed to cash in for a decent profit. They have slapped a reported €7.5 million price tag on the services of Akieme, who could be heading to the Premier League, with Brighton, Crystal Palace, and Everton all seeking his signature.

Although Everton are in desperate need of major investment during the January transfer window, the left-back position is unlikely to be one of the club’s top priorities for the club.

Vitaliy Mykolenko has been one of Everton’s unsung performers so far this season. However, Ruben Vinagre’s summer loan move to Goodison Park has been a flop, with the Portuguese left-back only making two appearances for the Blues this season.

So Frank Lampard might dip into the winter market to add more quality to the full-back department. But there is surely a better use of funds in other areas, with his side lacking any creative presence in the attacking third.

As for the interest from Crystal Palace, academy product Tyrick Mitchell has been Patrick Vieira’s first choice at left-back. But they have failed to replace Patrick van Aanholt, who left Selhurst Park on a free transfer back in 2021.

Academy graduate Tayo Adaramola made his senior debut for Palace last season, while the versatile Jeffrey Schlupp can also fill in at left-back when needed.

However, Akieme would provide manager Vieira with a senior option capable of providing cover and competition for Mitchell immediately and for years to come.  It will be interesting to see if Crystal Palace and Everton shell out a very affordable €7.5 million to sign him from Almeria.

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