Names to Faces

So how do we all feel about being linked to every single professional footballer in the world? Frustrating, isn’t it? But here’s the question, would you rather it be the way it was when we were linked to nobody for entire windows? I’ll leave that one with you…

If you do need an extra dose of optimism, in order to counter the feelings of rage at the fact that Aiden McGeady is still being paid by Everton, then read this by @EvertonMusings. It definitely helped me ignore the re-emergence of ‘Witsel-gate’.

It’s pretty hard to keep track of some of the names we’ve been linked to, but I’ll do my best to give you a basic understanding of some of the most interesting and credible links.

 

William Carvalho

Age: 24

Position: Defensive Midfielder

Club Side: Sporting Lisbon

Although the Liverpool Echo have stated that they “understand Carvalho is not a target, at this stage” reports from his native Portugal, linking him to Everton, continue to surface. He’s the very definition of a defensive midfielder, and would arrive as the heir-apparent of Gareth Barry. During Euro 2016 he was the shield in front of Portugal’s back four, ending the tournament without committing a single defensive error. His passing range is another bonus to his game, a stat that shouldn’t go unnoticed is that 88% of his completed passes during Euro 2016 were forward passes. One problem may be his lack of pace, it may cause him to struggle if he moved to the Premier League. Whereas Barry compensated for it with his intelligence and overall knowledge of the league, Carvalho may struggle to adapt. Although, to be fair, he has just been one of the deciding factors in winning an international tournament, so it could go either way.

Likelihood of signing: 6/10

 

Kalidou Koulibaly

Age: 25

Position: Centre Back

Club Side: Napoli

Everton have tried to sign Koulibaly before, while Roberto Martinez was in charge. So that’s it, call it off. His performances the season before last were rather mediocre, his desire was questioned and Napoli offered him to a range of clubs. However he stayed in Naples, he improved and was widely regarded as one of the best centre backs in Serie A last year. His upturn in form has turned heads, Bayern Munich and Chelsea have both registered interest. His agent seems to have been in contact with various Premier League clubs in recent days and weeks, although his comments seem to point towards favouring a move to Chelsea. One very recent development seems to show Chelsea becoming frustrated in their pursuit of Koulibaly and moving on to Torino’s Nikola Maksimovic instead. That could give Everton a free run at the Senegal international. Either that or Chelsea match whatever we bid and he goes there, because that’s what would happen in that scenario.

Likelihood of signing: 5/10

 

Axel-Witsel

 

Axel Witsel

Age: 27

Position: Central Midfielder

Club Side: Zenit St Petersburg

Alright, stop groaning, you knew he’d be in here somewhere. Every transfer window has a few “Will he? Won’t he?” stories and wouldn’t you know it, Everton and their new-found wealth are involved in one. You may be bored of hearing his name, but there’s a reason that Everton have persisted with their attempts to bring him to Goodison. His physicality and ability on the ball would make him an ideal box-to-box Premier League midfielder, most likely replacing James McCarthy in our side. While Witsel seems intent on a move to a Champions League side, or just to Italy, Zenit have made it clear that only Everton have matched the asking price for the Belgian. It may happen, it may not. It probably depends on how Juventus want to spend the rest of the Pogba money, the ramifications of that one will be far-reaching anyway. Prepare for this to drag on until the transfer merry-go-round is in full swing.

Likelihood of signing: 5/10

 

Mateo Kovacic

Age: 22

Position: Central Midfielder

Club Side: Real Madrid

This could be one link you may have missed. Weirdly, it’s also one of the links that has persisted throughout the window. At the beginning of the window Kovacic was allegedly offered to numerous Premier League clubs, including Everton, for around £30m. These rumours have quietly persisted and even as recently as today AS in Spain have again suggested that Everton are interested in bringing the versatile Croat to Goodison.

While at Inter, Kovacic made his name as a number 10 style player, with his physicality making it possible for play in a deeper role during his time in Serie A. He has struggled for game time since his £25m move to Real Madrid last year, and may have been deemed surplus to requirements.

If they could pull it off, this would be the ideal midfield signing for Everton. His versatility would make him perfect for the Premier League, although he has played credibly as an attacking midfielder, he sees himself developing into a more defensively minded player. This could be the box-to-box midfielder that Everton need.

Likelihood of signing: 3/10

 

Lamine Kone

Age: 27

Position: Centre Back

Club Side: Sunderland

He’s definitely not the most exciting name we’ve been linked with this summer, but Sunderland fans really don’t want to lose him, that’s usually a helpful indicator. Signed by Sam Allardyce last January for £6 million, he was one of the players brought in to help avoid the drop. Kone was one of the players to make a real difference at the Stadium of Light, providing solid defensive cover that the side had lacked. His only two goals for Sunderland came against against Everton. That was the 3-0 demolition that ended Roberto Martinez’ tenure at the club, by the way. Nice one Lamine. The price of solid central defenders has steadily risen in recent times, as clubs realise how valuable and scarce such a player is. So the touted £15 million fee may be as close to ‘value for money’ that Everton will get for a centre back.

Likelihood of signing: 7/10

 

Hakim-Ziyech

 

Hakim Ziyech

Age: 23

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Club Side: Twente

Some of you may know that I’ve already had my say on Ziyech in a previous article, but I think he’s fantastic so I’m going to repeat it… While the link may be tenuous, it’s still an exciting one. He’s been linked with £8m moves away from Twente for the past couple of years now, this year it seems almost certain to become reality. After Twente’s relegation, incurred due to financial mismanagement, and although they have now been saved from this fate, it looks likely that Ziyech will leave. There is concrete interest from Fenerbahce, but the move seems to have stalled significantly over the last month. The Moroccan is a very highly rated attacking midfielder, with an impressive record in the Eredivisie (17 goals and 10 assists in 33 games last season). He has developed a reputation as somewhat of a set piece specialist too, seeing as Everton failed to score directly from a free kick last season, that could be handy. Also imagine a corner at Goodison beating the first man….

Likelihood of signing: 4/10

 

Idrissa Gueye

Age: 27

Position: Defensive Midfielder

Club Side: Aston Villa

Speaking of value for money, Ta dah! Yes, yes I know he was a part of that abominably bad Aston Villa side, but I’m sure you’ve seen the stats. Second only to N’Golo Kante for tackles and interceptions last season, no I didn’t notice him doing that either… You may be thinking to yourself “But he was playing for Villa, who were constantly under attack, of course he made loads of tackles.” Well thanks to the ever reliable stats of @EvertonMusings, I can answer that for you. There were actually six teams who averaged less possession than Aston Villa in the Premier League, so there were players who would have had far more opportunities to complete tackles. It’s known that Ronald Koeman wanted to bring Gueye to Southampton following his performances for Lille, whereas Steve Walsh wanted him to replace Kante at Leicester. It must be remembered that this man has made a very successful career out of signing players from poor sides and allowing them to become successful footballers, see Marc Albrighton, Jamie Vardy and Rhiyad Marhez. So I’m not going to question his judgement here.

Likelihood of singing: 9/10

 

Asmir Begovic

Age: 28

Position: Goalkeeper

Club Side: Chelsea

Unfortunately, the links to decent goalkeepers have been few and far between. It seems glaringly obvious that Everton still need a goalkeeper capable of holding the No1 position. Begovic has been the only link of note, since speculation surrounding a move for Kasper Schmiechel ended with the arrival of Steve Walsh. Anyway, throughout his time at Stoke, Begovic has proved he can be a very capable No1 and at 28 he still has his best ‘keeping years ahead of him. While he may not have shone at Chelsea last season, he still didn’t make many noteable mistakes. For the £8 million that Chelsea want for him, he could be a terrific signing for Everton.

Likelihood of singing: 7/10

 

Well that’s your lot anyway, hopefully in the coming days and weeks there’ll be a bit more for me to write about than just the speculation. Keep the faith, jib off the negativity and just hang in there.

The good times are coming.

Up the Toffees.

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Michael De Asha
Michael De Asha

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