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Everton 'edge ahead' in the race to sign highly-rated Gedson Fernandes

Everton have apparently moved ahead in the race to sign highly-rated Benfica midfielder Gedson Fernandes as Carlo Ancelotti steps up his recruitment plans at Goodison Park.

Everton are set to back their new manager in the transfer market and have now said to have edged ahead of several rivals in their pursuit of Fernandes, the 20-year-old having attracted attention from across Europe after falling out-of-favour in the Portuguese capital.

West Ham had been strongly linked with a move for the prospect, with Manchester United, Lyon and AC Milan also said to be keen, though according to The Athletic it is now the Merseyside outfit who leading the race for his signature.

No agreement is yet believed to be in place, though talks are ongoing between the two sides regarding an 18-month loan deal with an option to purchase the youngster on a permanent basis for a fee of £34m.

Should the Toffees complete the deal, it would be the latest statement of intent from majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, who is said to have promised Ancelotti significant investment to improve the squad when tempting the three-time Champions League winning coach back to the Premier League.

Portugal U21 international Fernandes is amongst a host of targets currently being considered during the January transfer window, with Ancelotti and director of football Marcel Brands in talks over potential recruits as the club look to move forward.

Moyes discusses West Ham’s interest in Gedson Fernandes

See also – Sectarianism, betrayal and a pig’s head – The most controversial transfers in football history