'Deal done' - Everton right-back 'target' set to complete medical ahead of move to rival

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Everton FC transfer news: The Japan right-back is set to join the Premier League.

Everton target Yukinari Sugawara is set to undergo a medical and complete a move to Southampton, according to the latest reports.

Sugawara, 24, had been linked with a move to Everton having impressed for Japan and AZ Alkmaar across the past few years. The Japan international, who has 13 caps since making this debut in 2020, had the most assists of any Eredivise full-back last season.

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Having impressed in Holland, it serves a blow for Everton that Southampton are set to secure a deal for the defender. Fabrizio Romano confirmed it on X, as he wrote: ‘Yukinari Sugawara, set to undergo medical today at Southampton as he’s joining #SaintsFC from AZ. Japanese fullback will sign the contract later today, deal done.’ He looked to be a fine prospect given his deal was set to expire next summer, meaning he would be available for a low fee - his Transfermarkt value stands at £10m.

While his figures were impressive going forward, there were some glaring defensive shortcomings that would have been exposed in England. For example, he ranked in the 5th percentile for aerial duels won - that’s incredibly low and he would have been targeted in the Premier League. Plus, he ranked in the 23rd percentile for defensive actions which suggest he was more effective going forward. Sean Dyche saw his side concede the fourth-least goals in the Premier league last season but right-back was a position that looked uncertain. We saw Nathan Patterson, Seamus Coleman, Ashley Young and Ben Godfrey all utilized in that position across the campaign. Both Young and Coleman are veterans who are likely in the final season, while Patterson is yet to earn the trust of Dyche.

Sugawara would have been a welcome addition given his skill set ability to go forward and contribute in attack as well as given much needed dynamism to the role. Ben Godfrey’s exit to Atalanta has added further concern to this issue as it is unclear if they are going to add in the right back role especially now centre-back is a position that needs strengthening.

The Toffees have already missed out on Jacob Greaves, who is set to join Ipswich and they only have Michael Keane and Mason Holgate in reserve, with the former only having one year left on his deal. Holgate endured two disappointing loans and his future is unclear but it is becoming more evident that additions are needed at the back.

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