Rival bids in for Ben Godfrey as Champions League club return for Everton man

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: Ben Godfrey of Everton in action during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Everton FC at Turf Moor on December 16, 2023 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Stewart Kendall/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Stewart Kendall/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)

Lyon and Atalanta have submitted bids for Everton defender Ben Godfrey.

The French side are understood to have matched Everton’s valuation of around €15m (£12.7m) for Godfrey. Atalanta’s €10m (£8.4m) bid is lower but the Italian club are thought to be the 26-year-old’s preferred destination at this stage of proceedings.

Godfrey has been a long-term target for Atalanta, who are aware he will enter the final 12 months of his contract this summer and will be available to them for free next year.

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The England international featured 15 times in the Premier League during a season of two halves under Sean Dyche. Godfrey started just once before Christmas, stepping in to help the Blues keep a clean sheet at Burnley in December. His professionalism while out of the side was repeatedly praised by team-mates and staff and was ultimately rewarded the following month when an injury crisis provided him with a first team spot he held on to for several months.

That followed Everton refusing to sanction his departure in the winter transfer window. One of the sides interested in him at the time were Atalanta, who enquired about a loan switch for the former Norwich City player. The ECHO understands the club’s longstanding interest is central to the Bergamo-based team being Godfrey’s favoured destination. That position has since been enhanced by the club’s success in the Europa League - a feat that means they can offer Champions League football.

Discussions are expected to continue to see whether Atalanta and Everton can reach an agreement, with Godfrey’s contract status and the danger of losing him on a free next year should no deal be reached likely to bear influence on the talks.

Another factor will be the looming end of the football financial year. The deadline, and therefore the date by which Premier League clubs are held to under the Profit and Sustainability Regulations, falls on Sunday. Any deal for Godfrey could, therefore, significantly strengthen the Blues attempt to comply with the spending parameters for the first time in three years, and therefore avoid a third points deduction.

That the club could boost its position through the sale of a player who has had limited opportunities at his preferred position of centre-back and who is set to compete with Seamus Coleman, Ashley Young and Nathan Patterson for the righ- back spot is unlikely to be lost on anyone.

Godfrey is understood to be open to a departure should Everton willing to accept an offer.

The fight for his signature comes amid a hectic opening fortnight of the transfer window for the Blues, who are close to a deal for Marseille forward Iliman Ndiaye having already bought Tim Iroebugnam from Aston Villa and secured the return of Jack Harrison on loan from Leeds United. Lewis Dobbin has been sold to Villa, while there is interest in Jarrad Branthwaite, Amadou Onana and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.