El Ghazi’s desire to join Everton convinced Benítez to agree deal

Rafael Benítez has claimed he agreed to Anwar El Ghazi’s transfer from Aston Villa after being convinced of the winger’s desire to join Everton.

The Everton manager wants to strengthen in central midfield but landed the winger on a five-month loan, with an option to buy, after he became “part of the deal with [Lucas] Digne when we started negotiations”. Benítez would not be drawn on whether the signing was imposed on him by Farhad Moshiri, or influenced by an agent close to the club’s majority shareholder, but insisted he was involved in deciding Everton’s third incoming player of the window.

Benítez, when asked about Moshiri’s role in the transfer, said: “To be fair, with the Covid situation, with injuries and also [Alex] Iwobi away from here for nearly one month [at the Africa Cup of Nations] it was an opportunity. If there is a player on loan, with quality, that wants to come and who wants to prove himself, then maybe it is a win-win situation. That was the idea.

“I was talking with the player to be sure he was keen to come, and he has the desire to do well for us, and he was quite positive. In the end, hopefully he can improve our squad.”

He added: “I was talking with the player to be sure he has commitment and wanted to come. That was, for me, the key part of the negotiation.”

Everton visit bottom-placed Norwich on Saturday having won once in the Premier League since 25 September. Benítez had lunch with Moshiri on Thursday and, despite the team’s dreadful form, claims their talks remain positive.

“We talked about what we did in the transfer window, what we would like to do, if it is possible, what we would like to do in the future, the stadium – so a lot of things about the future of the club,” Benítez said. “It was quite positive. Normally he is quite positive.

“The main thing for us, for anyone as a manager, is to win games and do well. In terms of what we have done, they can see a lot of things we are improving for the present and for the future. At the same time we want to win. He is quite positive in terms of, if we do well now, our future will be bright.”

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