According to L’Equipe, El Bilal Touré has “made up his mind” to “stick to his first choice” and agree to a move to Atalanta over Everton.
The French outlet call it “a fight until the last moment” to sign the 21-year-old striker who has now chosen the Serie A side.
L’Equipe had previously reported on 7 July that Atalanta were “ahead of the pack, especially Everton” for the Mali international, and it seems that has now proved true despite a late challenge from Goodison Park.
Fabrizio Romano and Alan Myers had both reported a surge of activity as the two sides seemed to be level pegging on Sunday night (23 July), but amid a report from Mundo Deportivo in Spain (25 July) which says Almeria have decided at club level to go with a slightly higher offer from Bergamo, it looks like their young striker has made the same decision.
According to L’Equipe the Atalanta bid will be worth a total close to €33million [£28.3m] with bonuses included.
It is obviously better for the Everton hierarchy to be working hard to land a much-needed goalscorer than doing nothing at Goodison Park, but losing out in the final stages ends with the same result.
Touré looked like a tough battle once it became clear that Atalanta were heavily in the race as they look to find a replacement for their own exit-bound Rasmus Hojlund.
But the Toffees must have thought the door was still open otherwise they wouldn’t have pushed it all the way, and it seems like they were in with a chance until the Italian’s were able to drop in a final offer after setting up a deal to sell Jeremie Boga to Nice.
Everton must have backup plans so there is no time to waste in throwing their energy behind them with Sean Dyche still in need of attacking reinforcements.
It was the same story a year ago with Frank Lampard needing a replacement for the recently-sold Richarlison, so the fact that the club has come this far to still in the same position isn’t great.
Neal Maupay didn’t prove to be the right answer last summer so the Toffees will have to guard against making a similar mistake this time round after apparently missing out on their prime target.