It’s fair to say Everton will do well to steer clear of another relegation battle in the upcoming Premier League season. Although their manager, Sean Dyche, is renowned for being able to squeeze the most out of extremely tight resources, this is now the third summer in a row that the club are restricted in the transfer market having been latched firmly within the shackles of FFP.
On a positive note, the manager seems to have the full backing of the impassioned fanbase – something that probably hasn’t been the case since Carlo Ancelotti was at the helm. The sheer physicality and intensity of Dyche’s style is almost an ode to the Everton of old, akin to the industrious nature of the teams that the likes of Joe Royle and David Moyes built. This style combined with the energy generated by the Gladyws Street End; it genuinely feels like a match made in heaven.
The aim of this window for Dyche and Director of Football Kevin Thelwell must be to start to create a more robust embodiment of Everton. Given the names they’ve been linked with and have already brought in, the club are looking to acquire a healthy mix of experience and youthfulness, with an emphasis on pace, power and intensity. Dyche wants to create a team that is a physical nightmare for teams to play against, especially at home. Let’s take a look at their confirmed business so far:
- Ashley Young – Aston Villa (free)
- Arnaut Danjuma – Villarreal (loan)
- Jack Harrison – Leeds (loan)
- Yousssef Chermiti – Sporting (£15m)
- Moise Kean – Juventus (undisclosed)
- Ellis Simms – Coventry (£3.5m rising to £8m)
- Niels Nknounkou – Saint-Etienne (£1.7m)
- Yerry Mina – Fiorentina (free)
- Asmir Begovic – QPR (free)
- Tom Davies – released
- Andros Townsend – released
The first player to come through the door early in the window was Premier League veteran Ashley Young. Although it’s not a glamourous signing, it could be a shrewd one considering where Everton are at currently. It seems likely he’ll play most games at left-back, but he offers functionality in as many as four roles in Dyche’s 4-4-2 system, being able to operate on both sides at full-back and wide-midfield. Not only this but he’s also in phenomenal condition for a player of his age, rarely picking up injuries and thus always being available. He’s also a top character and a leader, filling the void of the departed Conor Coady.
The next port of call was to add some goals to the team. Enter: Arnaut Danjuma. A move for the Dutchman broke down back in January after being hijacked by Tottenham but the forward has put pen to paper on a season-long loan in Merseyside. It’s unclear whether Dyche will field him out wide or upfront; be it a partner for Dominic Calvert-Lewin or merely a backup, but it’s a player who knows where the back of the net is – something that they severely lack without the aforementioned talisman.
The club have also splurged heavily on 19-year-old striker Youssef Chermiti from Sporting CP, although this one is probably more of a ‘one for the future’ type acquisition. It’s clear Everton are targeting a specific profile here though, given the previous links to El Bilal Toure too. Both are similar to Calvert-Lewin in terms of their athletic frame and physicality.
Chermiti, however, is still very raw and isn’t the cleanest of players technically, particularly in front of goal. He uses his body to hold off opponents very impressively for his age and he is a good outlet, thanks to his ability to spin a defender and carry the ball up the pitch in transitional moments. He isn’t shy in confidence and in the right environment – and with some patience – he could become an important player, but the club should look to bring in another option in addition, to prevent unnecessary pressure and expectations.
With Calvert-Lewin’s ongoing fitness issues and Neal Maupay flattering to deceive since joining last summer, it would be practical to bring a more experienced name through the door that can add goals instantaneously. Some other names being linked include Patson Daka, Hugo Ekitike and Che Adams.
The club were in desperate need of a wide player, and after completing a loan move for Jack Harrison, they look poised to bring in yet another winger from Leeds with Wilfried Gnonto. The duo of Dwight McNeil and Alex Iwobi were pivotal in Everton’s survival last season providing a useful blend of creativity and ground coverage. McNeil actually ended the season as the club’s top goalscorer, whilst his Nigerian counterpart yielded the most assists.
However, McNeil sustained an injury in pre-season and will be absent for the opening few games, and Iwobi isn’t a natural wide player, operating much more effectively in central areas. To add to the conundrum, Demarai Gray looks increasingly more likely to leave the club – a player who netted six times for the Toffees last campaign – only McNeil scored more. Although James Garner has featured as a makeshift right-sided midfielder at times, and Lewis Dobbin has impressed in pre-season on the left, it’s clear they need at least another wide player through the door.
The two names that have been primarily discussed are Gnonto and Southampton’s Kamaldeen Sulemana, both of whom were relegated to the Championship. Again, both players are similar in terms of the pace and 1v1 quality they bring. Both are effective outlets and acquiring either one would be a smart bit of business.
Any other incomings may depend on outgoings. It seems likely they’ll make a healthy profit on Demarai Gray, recouping around £15 million, whilst the club could raise further funds by selling highly sought-after assets Amadou Onana and Jarrad Branthwaite, if the price is right. The latter has a major opportunity to break into the backline after impressing at PSV Eindhoven, particularly following the departures of Yerry Mina, Conor Coady and possibly even Mason Holgate – who has fallen out of favour. However, the manager has been reluctant to make use of him in pre-season and a lucrative offer could convince the club to sell.
The Toffees also have Dele Alli to come back into the fold, whose poignant interview with Gary Neville may have hopefully lifted a huge weight off his shoulders. Dyche has been highly supportive of the 27-year-old but admits he’s “miles away” from a return at this point in time. It’s unclear whether he can perform at the highest level again, but he could be a significant X-factor for Everton if Dyche can get a tune out of him. Playing as a second striker off Calvert-Lewin’s shoulder, Dele might flourish.
Overall, avoiding relegation will suffice for most Evertonians, but they’ll want a much more relaxed account of it this time around. They already have the foundations of a solid defence and a midfield that is industrious and packed with physicality. Presuming they make a couple more additions in attack they won’t be so dependent on the fitness of Calvert-Lewin, which has plagued them for back-to-back campaigns. It won’t be a pretty watch at times, but Sean Dyche should be able to steady the shaky ship at Goodison Park.
By: James Lloyd / @Jlloyd2000
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / James Gill – Danehouse / Getty Images