Everton Challenge Liverpool in Race for Highly-Rated Belgian Defender

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Toffees may now offload Heitinga in order to fund Ajax skipper’s purchase. 

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New Everton head coach Roberto Martinez is interested in signing Ajax defender Toby Alderweireld this summer, according to reports in the Sunday Mirror.

The Merseysiders are understood to currently be on the look-out for a ball-playing centre back who can also operate on the right-hand side of their back four, with Martinez having reportedly sent his chief scout Kevin Reeves to watch the in-demand Belgium international in action first hand in last weekend’s Dutch Super Cup final.

And by all accounts, Reeves returned to Goodison Park with a glowing report on the Eredivisie champion’s skipper, who has also been attracting the attentions of Everton’s city rivals Liverpool in recent weeks.

However, the Spaniard has been told by Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright that he must first sell a central defender before he can then purchase a replacement, with Martinez believed to be willing to allow unsettled Netherlands international  Johnny Heitinga to leave Merseyside this summer if the right offer comes in for the player.

That would then free up cash for Everton to make a move for Alderweireld, whose contract at the Amsterdam ArenA only runs until June 2014, with the 24-year-old being valued at just £6 million by the Dutch giants after having scored 15 goals in 182 appearances for the club since 2008.

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