Belgium international midfielder Amadou Onana has joined Everton in a deal worth up to €40m.
Everton beat off competition from West Ham to secure the powerful 20-year-old, who has signed a five-year contract at Goodison Park. The club will pay €36m plus €4m in add-ons to Lille, who signed Onana for almost £6m from Hamburg only a year ago, plus 20% of any future sell-on fee.
Onana is Everton’s fifth summer signing following the arrivals of Conor Coady, Dwight McNeil, Rúben Vinagre and James Tarkowski and represents a coup for manager Frank Lampard and director of football Kevin Thelwell given the interest in the rising talent. The central midfielder has cited the opportunity to work with Lampard as a factor in his decision to move to Merseyside.
“It feels great to join Everton,” said Onana. “I know it’s a big, big club, one of the biggest in England. It’s something I want to be part of for many years. Everyone here showed they really wanted me and they have a plan for me, so I really appreciated the talks I had with the manager and director of football. They told me how they wanted me to play and I enjoyed it. They both have a lot of ambition and that’s the type of guy I am so it matches.
“The manager was one of the big reasons. He played at the highest level, won many things and was a midfielder, too. It means a lot to have interest from him and I think he can teach me many things. The Everton fans are amazing. I saw their support last season and it’s also one of the reasons why I chose Everton. I am looking forward to meeting them at Goodison and, just hearing about the atmosphere, I get goosebumps. Blue is my favourite colour, too!”
Everton have satisfied the Premier League that is working within its profit and sustainability rules and are also trying to re-sign midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye from Paris Saint-Germain. Another striker is also a priority for Lampard with Dominic Calvert-Lewin absent for six weeks with a knee injury.
The Senegal-born Onana was given his Belgium debut against the Netherlands in June by former Everton manager Roberto Martínez. He added: “I think I can play every position in centre midfield, whether that’s as a holding midfielder or a box-to-box as a No 8. Wherever the manager needs me, I will play there. I chose the No 8 shirt because I am a big fan of Kobe Bryant. His work ethic and the way he was inspired me so I’m happy to have that number at Everton.”
Everton’s director of football Thewell said Onana is “one of the most sought-after young midfielders in Europe for a reason and has many attributes to benefit our squad.” Lampard added: “Amadou is a player we were really keen to bring to Everton. He has many great qualities to help strengthen our midfield and, at just 20 years old, has massive potential to get even better. I spoke to him about why Everton was the right club for him and we’re all looking forward to him showing what he can bring to the team.”