Everton paid over the odds for Richarlison, admits Marcel BrandsRicharlison scored twice against Wolves on his debut for Everton.
Marcel Brands, Everton’s director of football, has rejected Manchester United claims that excessive agents’ fees were paid to sign Yerry Mina from Barcelona but admitted paying a premium to prise Richarlison from Watford.
Everton saw off interest from United and Lyon to sign Mina, the Colombia international defender, on deadline day for £30.25m plus £1.5m add-ons. United officials, while defending their reluctance to sign some of José Mourinho’s targets this summer, claimed they would have pursued him but for agents’ demands which, if paid, would have distorted the market. Brands, however, insisted Everton paid only what they offered at the start of negotiations and the deal took six weeks to complete because Barcelona held out for a better offer from United that never came.
Asked whether premiums were paid to agents to beat United to the central defender, Brands replied: “No, no, it was really simple behind the scenes. I put the offer in and Barcelona asked for a totally different amount that we would never have paid. Then they said: ‘OK, we will wait until the end of the market’. We never changed our offer. That was a bit of a gamble because everyone was writing about Man United [wanting Mina] and Barcelona used that, agents used that, everyone used it.
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“I don’t know exactly if Man United were in. The player said constantly to me: ‘I want to go to Everton’. That was a great thing for us but you never know if Man United comes in and offers an extra £150,000 a week – every player would like to do that. I don’t know exactly the situation with Man United but of course Barcelona used it. They said to me: ‘Man Utd are coming in’. I don’t know if they did but I took a bit of a risk with that. That’s why we were also keen on back-ups, you never know, but after the weekend before the market closed I had a confident feeling about it.”
Mina was one of four players Everton secured on deadline day – Bernard, André Gomes and Kurt Zouma the others – and Brands also rejected suggestions that Barcelona insisted on Gomes going on a season-long loan as part of the Mina deal.
The former PSV Eindhoven director of football added: “I went to Barcelona twice at the end of June or beginning of July to speak about a few Barcelona players because [Lucas] Digne was on our list and Mina was on our list. They told me about the other players who it was maybe possible to get. I asked about Gomes and they said no, he was only for sale. I knew the price and it was not possible for us so we left that. In the end, he got injured in pre-season and we started talking about him again.
“I asked Marco [Silva] to talk with him because he knows him very well and the player was enthusiastic about it. I went back to Barcelona and asked if there was a possibility of getting him on loan. At first they were not so happy with that but in the end they came back and said maybe it could be an option.”
Everton’s first signing of the Brands/Silva era was Richarlison in a deal worth up to £40m and the young Brazilian has made an impressive start to his Goodison Park career. The Dutchman conceded that Everton had to pay over the market value for the 21-year-old due to the lingering animosity at Watford over what they consider “an unwarranted approach” for Silva, their former manager, when Ronald Koeman was sacked last October.
“We thought it would be a very difficult one because of the history of the clubs,” explained Brands. “We were both convinced about him [but] I think with the situation with Watford, we had to pay a little but more. I think maybe the market value was a little bit lower but, at the end, we are happy with him. We think he can be very special. He has a lot of speed, the capability to work; he is strong, he is tall. There are a lot of qualities for all the competitions in Europe. They are important qualities.”
Brands said Everton reduced their overall wage bill this summer and the squad should be reduced further before 31 August. Nikola Vlasic joined CSKA Moscow on Wednesday and Muhamed Besic, Cuco Martina and Yannick Bolasie are all heading for the exit.
Everton’s director of football, who confirmed the club’s interest in the Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney and former Sevilla defender Clément Lenglet, said: “First of all we had to reduce the squad. We started with 38 players and now we are on 29/30 and I expect something more to happen in the last weeks of the window. Finally I think the squad will be reduced.
“Financially we also reduced the wages – not fully to the target I had in mind but I think we can do that in the near future. We identified the positions that were our priorities and in the end we did some extras that were more loan deals.”