James Collins emerges as surprise target for Everton

Everton boss Ronald Koeman is eyeing a surprise deal for West Ham United defender James Collins, who has less than a year left on his current contract.

The Wales international has provided quality backup at the heart of the Hammers backline, but he could be off the club's books during the summer.

The 33-year-old has been a brilliant servant for the east London club after having spent nine seasons in two separate spells. Collins initially joined West Ham United from Cardiff City in 2005 and appeared in 65 outings before he moved on to Aston Villa four years ago.

At Villa Park, Collins managed to make himself a Premier League regular and his performances recaptured the interest from West Ham United, who re-signed him in the summer of 2012. Collins has racked over 120 appearances in his second spell at West Ham, but his reluctance to extend his contract could see him being sold on a cut-price deal.

According to The Sun, Koeman has set his sights on signing Collins, who is being seen as a backup option to Michael Keane, Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka. Collins could be available for as little as £2m this summer, and the Toffees could face added competition from the likes of Crystal Palace and Stoke City, who are both seeking to add an experienced centre-back to their ranks.

Crystal Palace boss Frank de Boer is on the hunt for a new central defender in his squad, and it is suggested that he could favour a bargain option with the likes of Scott Dann, James Tomkins, Damien Delaney and Martin Kelly all capable of occupying the heart of the backline. On the other hand, Stoke City have been left disappointed in their quest to sign Bruno Martins Indi on a permanent basis from Porto, and this has brought Collins into their focus, although they have secured the loan signing of Kurt Zouma from Chelsea.