Everton are exploring a move for Lyon defender Jake O’Brien as the Merseyside outfit prepare for life without Jarrad Branthwaite. O’Brien has been a star turn since heading to Ligue 1 in the summer, which could see him kept under lock and key for the remainder of the season with Lyon currently in the midst of a relegation dogfight.
Clubs in the Premier League, Serie A and Bundesliga are all keeping track of the 22-year-old, who has made a barnstorming impression since becoming the first Irish star to play in Ligue 1 for more than two decades.
Express Sport understands that Everton are keen on O’Brien, but Lyon have made it clear they don’t want to sell the centre-back in January. The Toffees are reluctant to give up, and there has been talk of terminating Arnaut Danjuma’s loan spell at Goodison Park so he can sign for Les Gones if it increases the likelihood of O’Brien being allowed to leave.
A summer move for the Cork City academy graduate is more likely, with Lyon desperate to keep hold of him until their top-flight status is secured.
Lyon signed O’Brien from Crystal Palace last summer and the French side look set to turn a healthy profit when the time comes to cash in. The defender never played a senior game for the Eagles, instead embarking on loan spells to Swindon Town and Belgian side RWD Molenbeek.
O’Brien has scored three goals in 13 appearances for Lyon this campaign, earning their Player of the Month award in December. Palace don’t have a buy-back option on the 6ft 6in star but a sell-on clause will see them bank a significant sum if the Irishman moves on.
Selling star players may be crucial for Everton after twice falling foul of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules. They suffered a 10-point deduction earlier this campaign and could be hit with another punishment before the season concludes.
The Toffees have conducted no significant transfer business this winter, with Dyche’s side hovering one point above the relegation zone as they look to narrowly escape the drop for a third consecutive season.