Alright that’s the deadwood shifted (if you haven’t already, go and read my passive aggressive fume towards Arouna Kone & friends. Ta x) now onto some of the options to bring into the club. First of all, none of us know just how much money Farhad Moshiri is promising to inject into the club with regards to a summer budget, so at this point it would be pretty stupid to propose that Everton are about to go out and buy Mats Hummels, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba. (Which, let’s be honest Blues, isn’t happening) It is important not to get carried away with the idea of investment, so while some of the names here may not be the most ambitious, they are all realistic without knowing the extent of Everton’s summer transfer funds.
Goalkeepers: The best teams are built upon the strongest foundations, with the exit of Tim Howard confirmed earlier this season (just typing that sentence brings a smile to my face) Everton have one recognised senior ‘keeper. While Joel Robles has offered a solid 7 out of 10 performance most weeks, since replacing Howard as the first choice, a top class stopper is still required at the club.
Jack Butland: Highly linked with Everton shortly before his move from Birmingham to Stoke, most Evertonians thought the club may have missed a trick not signing Butland. Turns out we were right. He would definitely be one of the most expensive options to bring in, with a fee of £20 million being touted in some papers. However the 23 year old does have bags of potential and would add to the young British spine of the side, as well as bringing a commanding demeanour that has become increasingly evident during his time at the Britannia.
Steve Mandanda: Out of contract in the summer, the 31 year old Frenchman may not provide the longevity of other options, but his ability cannot be questioned. With a French league title as well as three domestic cups to his name, Mandanda would bring with him a winning mentality that Everton desperately lack within the majority of their squad. Furthermore, as the current captain of Marseille, the Frenchman may help to restore an element of leadership that is missing at Goodison for some time now. Mandanda will most probably prove to be an astute bargain for whoever he signs for, whether that will be Everton remains to be seen.
Loris Karius: Probably the most obscure name on the list (I say that as I had no idea of his existence until recently), Karius has been a mainstay in the Mainz starting eleven this season. Germany seems to be full of young, talented ‘keepers, so perhaps it offers some insight into his ability that he has been capped at Under-21 level for Germany. At the age of 22 he is also the youngest goalkeeper on the list, although young he has proven a capable player in a difficult league. He also has previous experiences in England, during a stint with the Manchester City youth programme before his move back to Germany. At a cost of £10 million, he may not be the gamble that he first seems.
Asmir Begovic: Since his move to Chelsea, Begovic has not managed to start many games when Thibaut Courtois has been available (surprise surprise). If paper talk is to be believed then he may be available for under £10 million and as a keeper just entering his prime, with a solid record in the Premier League, Begovic may well be one of the most appealing choices to bring to Goodison Park.
Defenders: As has been highlighted in recent weeks, Everton’s defensive options are very thin at present. Even with the entire defensive unit fit, the squad is not well-rounded or competitive enough to take the next step, plus it would be nice to have a centre half who could actually jump… The gulf in quality within the squad has led a lack competition for places and in turn this has seen major player regression. Seamus Coleman is the prime example of this, with no credible competition his overall game has dropped at an alarming rate.
Kieran Trippier: It is for this reason that a right back is an absolute necessity in the summer, as it has been for the past two years. After a couple of promising seasons with Burnley, highlighting his crossing ability as he earned numerous assists in the championship, he earned a move to Tottenham. However, since his move to Spurs in the summer he has been unable to usurp Kyle Walker as the first choice right back. With game time limited perhaps move to Everton, be it permanent or on loan, may be a logical next step for the English full back.
Martin Montoya: Another option in the right back position is the 25 year old Spaniard. Currently very much out of favour with his parent club Barcelona, an unsuccessful loan move to Inter Milan was cut short and he now finds himself at Real Betis. Strangely though, this is not a career in freefall. After providing some decent performances for Barcelona, in the absence of Dani Alves, the decision was made to send him out for experience at a decent level. In came Inter Milan, although crucially it was without the say-so of Roberto Mancini who’s currently managing the Azzurri. Mancini made it clear he did not want Montoya, so the loan was terminated in December. Since then he has put in some excellent performances at Betis, highlighting his ability to capably play at both right and left back. With the surprising alteration of Sergi Roberto providing decent cover at right back, as well as the addition of Aleix Vidal, Montoya’s time with the Catalan giants could well be up. He would be an excellent addition to Everton, and should be a player monitored very closely in the coming months.
Jetro Willems: With the continued poor form of Oviedo and the rate at which injuries seems to be catching up to Leighton Baines, Everton’s strength at left back isn’t as strong as the team sheet would suggest and Willems would be a perfect candidate to reinforce this area of the squad. The Dutchman is definitely stuck in his own personal bubble of time and space. Only 22 years old and still at PSV, he seems to have been around for a long, long time. Many may remember him being thrown into the deep end at Euro 2012, as an 18 year old he was Holland’s first choice left back. Despite being only 22 he has already amassed 100 senior appearances, signing Willems would be a safe bet for most Premier League clubs and with teams as varied as Newcastle and Manchester City taking an interest, Everton would need to act quickly to secure the services of the capable left back.
Andrew Robertson: Another option at left back, and one that has continuously gone under the radar, is Andrew Robertson who is currently battling for promotion back to the Premier League with Hull. After joining “The Tigers” (if by chance one Hull fan reads that and their head falls off, I will be eternally happy) in the January window of 2014, he quickly established himself in the Premier League until their subsequent relegation. This season he has been named as the 11th best overall player within the Championship, which is no mean feat for a young left back. As these sustained good performances have followed in the championship, they were mirrored by his continued improvement at international level with Scotland. Most notably was a confident performance against Germany in the Euro 1016 qualifiers. If he continues in the same vain, the 22 year old could well be a sound addition at Goodison Park.
Ryan Shawcross: Everton need a defender who can defend and head the ball, pure and simple. We experienced first-hand how much of an influence Shawcross has on Stoke back at the beginning of February, through his absence. On that day Everton ran out comfortable 3-0 victors, as Stoke slumped to their 3rd defeat in as many matches. Shawcross had only played 45 minutes of the three games, coming off at Leicester with the score at 0-0. His defensive abilities are definitely undervalued by the majority of observers, but next season may provide an upturn in fortunes for the former Manchester United man. The fashionable ball playing centre half has fallen away in recent months. This summer Spurs brought in Toby Alderweireld, a player offloaded by Atletico Madrid because he was unable to adapt to the Spanish game, while Leicester made the signing of Robert Huth from Stoke permanent. Wes Morgan has just been selected in the team of the year, because he can defend. Playing out from the back is all well and good but, at the end of the day, the centre halfs are there to defend and keep clean sheets. The basics come first and the elaborate stuff follows, Everton are missing the basics. Shawcross may not be a fashionable player but he would bring defensive stability and leadership back to the Everton defence that is horribly lacking in both.
Scott Dann: After being very highly linked with Dann in the summer, Everton could do a lot worse than returning to Crystal Palace to acquire his services. Although he may be another unfashionable signing, Dann brings with him an extra attribute, with five league goals to his name. As a player with proven Premier League quality, it is understandable that Crystal Palace would want to keep Dann at Selhurst Park. They are also under no obligation to sell a player they have just handed a lucrative new deal to, due to this it may make for a slightly more difficult signing than it first appears.
Marc Bartra: There’s the fashionable option for you and definitely one who should be considered as a ready-made replacement for John Stones, should he leave in the summer. Seen as surplus to requirements at Barcelona, the Spaniard could be available for as little as £9.3 million. Everton would face stiff competition for the in-demand defender from Manchester United, Spurs and Liverpool, however if Everton could secure his signature it would definitely be a statement of intent. Despite it being a signing lauded by many, he may not be the type of centre half that Everton require.
Midfielders: With a large turnover of players expected in the summer, the department that will be diminished most significantly will be the midfield. As the options have become more and more limited, it has become evident that replacements are needed both defensively and offensively. There are arguments for purchasing a holding midfielder, a creative midfielder, a winger and a box to box player.
Andriy Yarmolenko: Ah what a time to be alive, we were signing Yarmolenko, Shaqiri, Charlie Austin and some mad South American defender and we were going to win the lot. Ah well ay, chin up lads. A word of warning though, brace yourself for the Yarmolenko transfer saga to spin on for another glorious year. It’s the hope that kills you. I think we all know his background, especially since most of us watched him play a game on a carpark through some dodgy stream last summer. The infamous Everton negotiations were the stumbling block last year and perhaps this is where the increased financial backing will come in handy. A fee of £20 million seems a lot more palatable now, although the Dynamo Kiev president has stated that he doesn’t want to sell their best player “to a club like Everton or Stoke City.” With two bottom half finishes and some utterly woeful displays, no wonder he doesn’t want to sell to Everton. In fact, it is actually more offensive to Stoke, seeing as they’ve finished well above us for the last two seasons and have been continuously improving. Although he has definitely been overhyped by a fanbase desperate to see a marquee signing, Yarmolenko would still be an ideal option to bring into the squad seriously lacking in quality.
Lewis Cook: One of the best prospects in the Championship this season, the talented box to box midfielder has had a year to remember. That is despite being played out of position for most of it, and he may very well be ready for the step up. Leeds rate him very highly and turned down an offer of £5 million for the central midfielder in January. (It was from Bournemouth by the way) He is thought to be available for around double that price in the summer, the Football League’s Young Player of the Year may be ready to step in and replace James McCarthy, since he’s stopped playing football for the time being.
Michael Carrick: He might not be the marquee signing we’re after but Gareth Barry isn’t getting any younger. After all, what’s better than one ageing midfielder better than the rest of them? Two ageing midfielders better than the rest of them, obviously. Honestly though, Everton are lacking leadership and winners and they could do worse than to bring in Carrick on a short term deal. Put it this way, if we’re looking to kill a game off next season and Gareth Barry looks shattered with ten minutes to go (which he will do), I’d rather have Carrick on the bench to turn to than Osman, he’d be a sensible addition to the squad… All right, all right, stop groaning, I’ve stopped now.
Bojan: As Steven Pienaar’s ability has declined, Everton’s need for a creative spark in midfield has only increased. This has been highlighted further in the past two years with the evident lack of coaching leaving Ross Barkley devoid of any intelligent creativity. After failed stints at Barcelona and Ajax he seems to have found his feet in the Premier League, with a Stoke side that has performed well since his inclusion. While providing a steady stream of assists and key passes, he also brings an undervalued quality, space. Whenever teams play Stoke now, Bojan is highlighted as someone to close down quickly and not allow time on the ball. This allows the players alongside him (Arnautovic, Shaqiri, etc.) to push further on and exploit gaps and spaces that are created, something we haven’t seen at Everton for two seasons now. When Everton attack teams, it always seems to be against two banks of four that have no reason to push out and allow for space. A player like Bojan could help to change this.
Strikers: It seems pretty clear that we need strikers. We basically only have one. Kone isn’t good enough and I don’t even know what Oumar Niasse is. Is he a winger? Is he a striker? Is he even a footballer? Answers on a postcard please. Anyway, in all probability we’ll be left with no actual Premier League quality strikers come Euro 2016. I would say it is the area we needed to strengthen most, but to be honest you could argue that could be said of every single department.
Wilfried Bony: Definitely the “if Lukaku leaves” option. On a good day, Lukaku’s strength can set the tone for an Everton performance. Shrugging off defenders can get Goodison Park up, just as much as Lukaku being bullied can kill the atmosphere. Bringing in Bony would ensure this strength was maintained, with the added bonus of consistent hold up play. However it must be noted that although he would come with better hold up play, the attacking unit would lose an element of pace. Obviously this would be a fee far below the £28 million that saw him move to the Etihad. At 27 he is a player who is very much still working towards his prime, although his recent form at Manchester City has been lacklustre to say the least. If it is to be Bony then one thing that could help him to regain the form he found at Swansea is if he is played in a system with two strikers.
Ayoze Perez: So who could Bony play in a front two with? Whoever it is needs pace, skill and intelligence. One possible answer could be Ayoze Perez. Incidentally, he is one of the very few Newcastle players I would have anywhere near our squad. Since his arrival in the Premier League he has been one of the very few players to come out of Newcastle slightly positively. His surprising instant impact to English football since joining in 2014 is evidence of how suited he is to Premier League football and perhaps a move to a higher quality side would increase his unexpected progression even further. He could well be worth a gamble on a cut-price deak, if Newcastle are indeed relegated (*crosses fingers to the point of arthritis*).
Alexandre Lacazette: After last season’s remarkable goal scoring exploits he has followed it up with another fruitful term in Ligue 1, netting 17 goals. He has turned heads in the previous two years, with registered interest from Stoke City and a turned down move to Newcastle. After a £22 million bid was accepted by Lyon in January, the likelihood is that Lacazette will find himself entering the Premier League in the summer, he has said so himself in recent months. He is definitely the perfect replacement for Romelu Lukaku, if he is to leave, bringing pace, power and a knack for scoring goals.
Munir: First things first, this would definitely be a loan option (Forza creating fume with loans again). After approaching Barcelona in January in an attempt to take him on loan then, it would not be a surprise to see Everton return in the summer. This season has been somewhat of a breakthrough for Munir at Barcelona, starting around 15 games. In that time he has shown intelligence and a noticeable technical ability and therefore may be ready to go out on loan in search of more consistent first team action next season. Although the physicality of the league may take some adapting to, as it did for Gerard Deulofeu, he would be a no-risk squad player that could bring a much needed X-factor to Everton’s striking options.
So there it is, not all doom and gloom ay, a few names to get you started. You might like them, you might hate them. Obviously there are many more options and if you can think of anyone you’d prefer then feel free to mention them, let’s be honest Everton’s scouting team probably scours twitter for ideas these days based on their recent record.
Onwards anyway, next are the changes needed off the pitch, not much negativity to be had there ay? Ah…. Might need to rethink that one slightly.