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Everton ‘making progress’ on priority transfer as doubts grow over Calvert-Lewin

Everton have stepped up talks with Marseille about a deal for attacking midfielder Iliman Ndiaye and are “making progress” on the transfer.

The Toffees have made a flying start to the summer with a season-long loan deal for Jack Harrison, a one-year contract extension for Ashley Young and a £9million deal for Aston Villa midfielder Tim Iroegbunam.

But i understands that Sean Dyche wants to reshape his attacking options and has made former Sheffield United man Ndiaye a priority target.

The deal is “moving” but reports an agreement has been struck are premature. Originally Everton proposed a loan move with an option to make the deal permanent, but Marseille want a straight transfer and the two clubs are thrashing out a fee.

There is now hope a deal can be done, although the Ligue 1 club would likely want to recoup most of the £20million they paid to take him from Sheffield United last season.

An announcement would likely not come until after the June 30 ‘soft’ PSR deadline, which is when clubs’ accounts have to be submitted.

Senegal international Ndiaye played 30 times for Marseille last season after departing Sheffield United, where he was a key part of their Championship promotion campaign.

At 24 and with creativity and goalscoring potential, Ndiaye fits the bill of what Everton are looking to bring into the squad.

Dyche kept the club in the Premier League with room to spare but concerns over goalscoring need to be addressed over the summer transfer window. There remain doubts about Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s future, with insiders suspecting he is scoping out his options before committing to a new contract.

Newcastle were put off in the preliminary stages of transfer negotiations with Everton by a valuation close to £40million, which seemed like an attempt to ward off potential suitors. AC Milan and Manchester United have also been credited with an interest.

Meanwhile, it’s believed Everton need to broker more sales to meet their PSR target, although the club are standing firm on centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite.

The club are staying tight-lipped on their PSR situation – perhaps so as not to skew any enquiries for players – but have interest in other players after selling Lewis Dobbin to Aston Villa over the weekend.

Everton insiders told i the club want to keep Branthwaite and there has been no communication from the player that he is seeking a move.

A first bid of around £40million from Manchester United was rejected, with Everton – as i revealed in May – valuing the centre-back closer to the £80million mark.

The club’s financial situation has long looked precarious but news last week that the Friedkin Group – run by Texan billionaire Dan – have entered a period of exclusivity with majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has prompted optimism at Goodison Park.

As i reported on Friday, they have already committed £200million to the investment, clearing the MSP Capital loan and providing around £40million of working capital for day-to-day business at Everton. Ensuring there are no further PSR worries is now a key priority on Merseyside.

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