Rafa Benitez has recommended Kalidou Koulibaly to the Everton hierarchy as he looks to bolster his options at centre-half.

Benitez is yet to make a signing following his controversial appointment last month, and is said to have spied a weakness in the centre of the Toffees’ defence.

Yerry Mina, who started 22 Premier League games last season and 25 the season prior, has been linked with an exit, while Mason Holgate, who started 25 games, has been inconsistent.

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Benitez worked with Koulibaly for a season at Napoli and the Senegal international is seen as a significant upgrade on those two.

During his time in Italy, Koulibaly has been courted by some of Europe’s biggest clubs, with Napoli valuing him at £100m at one stage.

Now 30, Koulibaly is thought to be worth around £35m, but is still regarded by Benitez as an elite centre-half.

90min claim the Spaniard has lodged a special request with the hierarchy, urging them to prioritise Koulibaly ahead of all other transfer targets.

The report, if true, would do little to quell concerns that Benitez will employ a functional, unattractive style of football at Goodison Park next season.

The ex-Liverpool manager faces the uphill task of nursing a wounded relationship with the fans, who have rebelled against his appointment after he once labelled Everton a “small club”.

Didi Hamann, though, thinks it’s only a matter of time before Benitez has the faithful behind him. He told the Liverpool Echo: “I think he will be loved by the Everton faithful. He’s a top-class manager. I think he’s a genius.

“He wants to manage back in the Premier League and if there is no other club where he can go to, I wouldn’t hold it against him.

“When you look at his track record, what he did at Newcastle, what he did at Chelsea when he had a lot of fans against him when he first took over, he’s just a brilliant manager.

“I think the Everton fans in about six months’ time they will speak differently and maybe regret some of things they have said about him.”

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