Date: 2nd July 2019 at 7:01am
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Everton Director of Football Marcel Brands faces a tough test if he is to sign LOSC Lille sensation Raphael Leao, as Superdeporte understand Valencia are keen to sign the 20-year-old rising star.

The Spanish newspaper again name check the Toffees as being interested in the Portugal U21 international, and note that recently-promoted Aston Villa are also emerging on the player’s radar as they continue to flutter their Championship Play-Off prize money.

It is Valencia who are heading the race for his signature, however, as the La Liga outfit can offer the Sporting CP product Champions League football, while manager Mateu Alemany and Sporting Director Pablo Longoria realise this may be their last opportunity to sign Leao at a reasonable price.

Despite previous claims that Lille would demand €40million (£35.8m) for their 2018 summer signing, Superdeporte understand the asking price is actually a firm €30million (£26.8m), with the Stade Pierre Mauroy natives unwilling to accept anything lower.

Valencia cannot yet act on that price, though, as they are first negotiating a move for Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez involving Santi Mina heading the other way, and will then look to offload Ruben Sobrino to make space for Leao’s arrival.

The La Liga outfit are also questioning whether Leao’s youth and lack of experience of top-flight Spanish football will make his transition to life under Alemany more difficult than first thought, even though they do not doubt the 20-year-old’s potential or current ability, leaving the door ajar from Brands to swoop.

Valencia, however, are confident the player will be theirs by the time the Spanish window slams shut, and feel his move will be finalised toward the end of the market.

Everton were first linked with the £6,049-a-week centre-forward in March, with Blues supporters dubbing a then-19-year-old the Portuguese Kylian Mbappe and a future Balon d’Or winner.

Leao since went on to stretch his Ligue 1 goal tally for Lille to eight, with his strikes helping Les Dogues to a second-place finish in his debut campaign, having joined Christophe Galtier’s squad weeks after they ended the domestic season in 17th place.