EVERTON are ready to give Rafa Benitez something more to worry about after deciding Jamaal Lascelles is the man to target before the end of the window.

Lascelles is now the leading defensive target for the Toffees and Burnley’s decision to move swiftly for Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson could soon leave him as the only man to make an offer for.

Newcastle have resisted all talk of the defender moving on and are believed to have slapped a price-tag of £50m on Lascelles to put clubs off.

However, given the problems Rafa Benitez has been having with recruitment and the players’ ongoing tussle with the club over Premier League bonuses, Everton are ready to seriously test the water.

Burnley are trying to tie up a deal for Gibson, having had two offers rejected they are closer to a deal, and Everton were thinking of him as an alternative.

Now Marcos Silva, the Toffees manager, is thought to be preparing a £30m bid for the Newcastle skipper.

Then it will be down to what Benitez and the Newcastle boardroom think and whether they are on the same page, having outlined this summer that they don’t want to lose him.

Benitez’s future continues to be a hot topic following another summer when he doesn’t feel he has been backed on the transfer front – and he has entered the final year of his deal.

Former Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce, who was the first manager sacked by Ashley at St James’ Park, has been speaking about the relationship between Benitez and the club’s owner.

And Allardyce actually thinks Benitez has shown he wants to stay at Newcastle even if he is hasn’t been spending what he would have liked.

“You’re a very brave man if you go out and criticise the owners, which to be fair is what he is doing,” said Allardyce. “You have to be very self-confident in that you are criticising Mike Ashley with what you are saying. I don’t know whether they were going to sign anybody on or not.

“So if you’re taking that stand, you have to be very conscious of what you are doing, and what you are trying to do is publicly force the owner into spending more money.

“And doing that as a manager in today’s world is extremely dangerous; I couldn’t see anybody else doing that. But Rafa’s brave enough and experienced enough to do it.”

Benitez has not signed a new deal, and Allardyce said: “I think if a bigger club had already been in for Rafa he would have been gone. Walking is another matter. The contract is so tight it would probably leave Rafa paying the compensation himself, and I think that’s probably one of the reasons he wouldn’t walk.”

Newcastle play their final friendly of the summer on Saturday afternoon when Augsburg head to St James’ Park. It will be the first chance the St James’ crowd has had to see new signings Ki Sung-yueng, Fabian Schar and Yoshinori Muto pull on the black and white shirt.

Benitez is still banking on bringing more players in before the window closes on Thursday but nothing is close, even if they have been linked with a move for their former player Kevin Mbabu in the last 24 hours.

Salomon Rondon is still the striker that Benitez would like to have on board but West Brom have some way to go to get Dwight Gayle to head in the opposite direction.

Newcastle are looking at ways to bring in different money and they have accepted an offer from Blackburn to buy young forward Adam Armstrong.

The Championship club have offered £1.75m rising to £3m for Armstrong, who has not really had a chance on Tyneside despite his promise and the fact that he has scored goals for fun at lower levels. He is also been an England youth international.