Everton have fallen behind Zenit St. Petersburg in the race to sign sought-after FC Barcelona attacker Malcom, according to CalcioNapoli24.
The Italian publication understand Napoli were lining the Brazilian winger up as an alternative to Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez in case negotiations with Los Blancos went sideways, having seen their advances for LOSC Lille ace Nicolas Pepe knocked back in favour of Arsenal.
Napoli chiefs were only willing to target Rodriguez and Malcom on a temporary basis, however, which saw their approach to the Catalan outfit rebuffed as they are looking to raise funds following Antoine Griezmann’s arrival at the Camp Nou and for the potential return of Neymar.
Barca President Josep Maria Bartomeu is fixed on turning a profit on Malcom despite his troubles to find a way into Ernesto Valverde’s plans, and has lowered his valuation of the rarely-seen forward to €50million (£45.7m) after no suitors came forward at €60m (£54.9m).
Everton were alleged to have moved closer to the new €50m asking price earlier in the week, as interest from Napoli, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund could see Malcom secure a permanent move away from La Liga this summer.
It has since been claimed by Sport that the Blues increased their offer of €35m (£32m) to €40million (£36.6m), and added that Malcom would not receive a UK work permit if he were to move on loan – a problem which seems to have pushed Henry Onyekuru toward the Goodison Park exit door.
CalcioNapoli24 now echo the claim’s made by Sport of Everton lodging an improved €40million bid, but understand Zenit have trumped Marcel Brands’ insufficient hand with a €45m (£41.1m) offer and are nearing a deal for the Brazilian.
The Italian outlet add that Zenit President Alexander Medvedev has confirmed negotiations with Barcelona have entered an advanced stage.
“Negotiations with Barcelona for Malcom are in an advanced state, and are going through a very positive phase,” he said.
RMC Sport via Get French Football News, however, suggest Zenit’s approach was only a €40million offer like ours, although Sporting Director Javier Ribalta was in Barcelona on Tuesday to close the deal, with an eye on securing Malcom’s signature within 48 hours.