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It is easy to see the impact of Farhad Moshiri’s finance and determination to propel Everton into the Champions League picture when you analyse the club’s transfer business thus far this summer.
The squad has been significantly bolstered both in terms of depth and first-team quality with the arrivals of Davy Klaassen, Michael Keane, Sandro Ramirez and Jordan Pickford all being nicely capped off with the emotional return of one Wayne Rooney.
In Klaassen and Sandro the club now have two bona fide first-team starters who will vastly improve the team. Of course you have to factor in 25-goal Romelu Lukaku’s departure to Manchester United, but the idea is that others will contribute more to help the team dynamic as the Dutch coach alluded to in his part of Rooney’s introductory press-conference.
“We had a great striker in Romelu with 25 goals but it wasn’t enough, I prefer several players scoring 10-15 goals.”
Everton will continue to be busy in the market even after the current raft of arrivals with Koeman determined to add another playmaker to offset the likely Ross Barkley departure as well as looking at another defensive option.
Need to shore up their defensive line
This is exactly where the Blues need to look to next with the club’s defensive line still a little suspect in correlation with the ambitions the club have.
Michael Keane is a good signing; he is young, home-grown and could always improve. There will be concerns that he was overhyped throughout his last year in Burnley’s team but Koeman knows better than anyone how best to develop a centre-half.
With that said the options around him are limited. Ashley Williams was always a bizarre signing as the Toffees found their sea legs in the transfer market and John Stones’ departure to Manchester City didn’t exactly help matters.
Everton’s transfer strategy looks a lot more refined this year and it is the case that at 32 years old, the Welsh international represents a lot of dead money in salary on a contract that runs until June 2019. He didn’t even enjoy the most auspicious of debut years on Merseyside but he remains at most a reasonable rotation option.
Koeman has been eager to move Phil Jagielka on from the club for a number of months but his experience is rather useful, especially as he is isn’t too receptive to a move away. He is by no means a starter anymore but still an option nevertheless.
The issue for Everton comes in the form of their young players and it is an issue which really does indicate their arrival as a force in English football once again. Clubs with aims to qualify for and eventually win the Champions League always find it difficult to blood youth players into their first-team as the stakes are so high.
In Mason Holgate, Everton have a really talented defender who has impressed whenever he has been given the chance in the first-team. The question is can you rely on him for a 38-game season?
The rather demoralising answer is that you can never really tell until you’ve given him the opportunity but Everton need results now and for that reason they need to move for another centre-half this summer.
A reported bid for Virgil van Dijk has done little other than provoke ire across the city but the fact Koeman and co are looking in such a direction is encouraging to say the least.
Keane needs a partner next to him that is a similar age and can compliment his talents. Jonathan Tah of Bayer Leverkusen could well be primed for a move to the Premier League and would represent an incredibly upgrade in quality at Goodison Park.
This is just one name but there are many. Everton are in the somewhat envious position in that they can still shop in the markets just below really top class but have the finance to tempt those players from decently sized clubs in other top European leagues.
A good attack needs a good defence
Ronald Koeman’s style is one of attractive football that looks to retain possession whilst being somewhat of a threat on the counter-attack. It may though have been the case that this counter-attacking prowess was due to the presence of Barkley and Lukaku.
In Sandro and Klaassen you have two players who are arguably better technically and more suited to a possession centric approach.
Be that as it may, to be successful in England you need a good defence and that will never change. Keane is a solid defender and if they can find him a partner this summer it will give Everton the base from which to find their true style.
There is encouraging depth and youth with Holgate and Pennington coming through but there has to be an injection of quality.
On the cusp of becoming an elite side
Everton are on the cusp of being able to break into the real upper echelon of the Premier League and they mustn’t let the momentum they have built up this summer fall to the side with a negative second half of the transfer window.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @Chriswin4
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