Opinion: My Dream Transfer Window

This is one of the first transfer windows I’ve gone into in full confidence that Everton could well be able to bring in a couple of ‘marquee’ signings. Although this will be our second summer transfer window under Moshiri, this time there will be no time wasted looking for a new manager or DOF and you’d expect plans to have been set in place.

However, there’s almost a divide between the fans, one half full of optimism and expectation, the other expecting a carbon copy of last summer. And in all serious the latter seems more likely with top clubs already making big moves leaving the clubs around them in awe.

Despite that, only 2 weeks of the window has passed and there’s still another 3 months to go to make it Everton’s biggest window yet.

And on the optimistic side, that could well be the truth. With Europa League this season and big money to spend, we could be seeing upwards of 6/7 signings which would benefit Everton not only in adding squad depth but in strengthening in positions that would help us push for the top 4.

Here would be my dream squad following the long summer transfer window going into the 2017/18 season.

Goalkeepers

Like it should have been last summer, bringing in a new goalkeeper should be a priority this summer. Following the decline from Tim Howard, we endured a season of Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles alternating the position between the sticks at Everton and it’s now even more obvious to bring in a new ‘keeper.

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Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles, 44 goals conceded between them.

Joe Hart was continuously linked last summer before moving to Torino. Koeman said no to him last summer so he’s unlikely to have changed his mind 12 months later, especially after Hart’s awful season in Italy which has seen him concede 62 times in 36 games, as well as making 5 errors leading to goals and throughout the whole season kept just 5 clean sheets. And yes, he is England’s number 1, and was also one of Man City’s biggest leaders during their title seasons but those stats prove that Koeman was right.

Yet, it’s likely Hart will be continued to be linked with the Blues until they find a new keeper. Same goes to Fraser Forster. Forster was Koeman’s number 1 at Southampton and pushed Hart all the way for his England spot last season but has ha a shocking season at St. Mary’s as he to seemed prone to errors or conceded goals which should be straight forward saves. Another keeper I’d take a miss on.

However, if it was up to me, Jordan Pickford would be Everton’s number 1 next season. He’s sprung onto the scene this season and despite Sunderland’s relegation, he’s starred in almost every game he has played. At just 23, Pickford has the potential to turn into one of the best goalkeepers in England and could be our goalkeeper for the next 10 or 15 years. And with most ‘keepers reaching their potential in their late twenties, Pickford only seems to have an upwards trajectory.

Defenders

A couple of years ago Everton had one of the best defences in the league. We had two of the most wanted full backs in Europe flanking the solid pairing of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin who was later replaced by John Stones. However, that solidity was followed by 2 successive seasons of shambolic defending which epitomised Martinez’s failure to coach the basics of defending as the same mistakes were made each week, both from set-pieces and open play.

With the addition of Ashley Williams from Swansea City, the signing nothing more than a stop-gap for this season, Everton’s defence has looked more commanding and organised. But against the teams above us, there are obvious flaws with a real lack of pace and failure to deal with any creativity from quality players.

And despite keeping 13 clean sheets and having the 6th best defence in the league, our backline needs reshaping once more with both youth, pace and leadership.

Back in March, Seamus Coleman suffered a horrific leg break while on international duty, leaving Mason Holgate to step in. And although he done well, it was increasingly obvious his natural position is at centre back. Jonjoe Kenny could be the perfect replacement for Seamus Coleman and could potentially be a future Everton regular, and if the club didn’t have Europe to contend with this season, then maybe Kenny would’ve been given free reign to be Everton’s first choice right-back until the return of Seamus.

However, Everton could play close to 60 games this season compared to playing just 41 in Koeman’s first season. And now the signing of free agent, Cuco Martina, looks imminent. Formerly of FC Twente and Southampton, where he played under Koeman, the deal seemingly a no-brainer for the gaffer.

Although that deal looks likely, Everton’s defensive priorities should be at centre half. We need to be looking for a defender who is big, strong, tall, quick and for someone who can organise and lead the team at the same time. Unfortunately, every team wants that. As seen with the various big clubs pursuing Michael Keane, Virgil Van Dijk and Kalidou Koulibaly, players we’re targeting ourselves. But the likelihood in any of them wearing Royal Blue come September is very, very minimal.

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Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, on loan for 2 seasons at Borussia Muchengladbach.

For me, one player I’d love to see in our defence next season is Andreas Christensen. He’s not been linked with a move to the Toffees but after the ending of his ever-lasting loan at Borussia Monchengladbach it’s unlikely he’ll get game time for Chelsea. The Dane is young, tall, commanding and great with his feet with him creating 4 chances and completing 91% of his passes. He could easily be nurtured into a quality centre-back by Ronald Koeman.

Christensen would also need a new partner in defence as well. I’d love us to go and splash the cash on a defender such as Van Dijk or Koulibaly and if it wasn’t for so many big clubs wanting them too, I’m sure we would. However, I’d be keen on seeing Harry Maguire being brought in this summer as well. There’s no surprise in Maguire being constantly dismissed due to the fact he plays for Hull City, like how Gana was when our interest was first reported last summer, not that he’s been a poor signing or anything…

But I personally believe Maguire would be a brilliant signing. Not only is he a solid defender, but he also posses the talent in bringing the ball out from the back perfectly and his composure on the ball is quite the surprise. He starred for Hull in the second half of the campaign under Marco Silva and following their relegation he would be available on a cut-price deal, no more than £20m surely.

And finally, at left back, the dashing Leighton Baines with his accurate left peg, will be 33 in December and is unfortunately seemingly passed his prime. And following the sale of Bryan Oviedo in January, a left back is needed and it looks like the club realise that after just missing out on Sead Kolasinac to Arsenal.

For me, making a move for young Celtic full back Kieran Tierney would be a great signing. The left-back helped Celtic to their undefeated treble winning season with 2 goals and 12 assists and at just 19 has great potential. He’d also be willing to play second fiddle to Baines while he finds his feet in England and would be a great addition with the extra games in Europe.

As for the rest of Everton’s current defenders, it’ll be interesting to see if Brendan Galloway gets another chance to prove his worth in preseason after a wasted season under Tony Pulis. He had a great start to his Everton career but it looks like Koeman rates Mason Holgate much higher than Galloway. Another young defender, Luke Garbutt, his Blue’s career looks over and would expect him to be moved on during the summer. And with Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams staying as back up I’d happily allow Ramiro Funes Mori leave for a fee upwards of £15m.

Midfielders

In just 12 months, Koeman has almost completely transformed the heart of Everton’s team. Gareth Barry and James McCarthy who were easily two of the first names on the team sheet under Martinez are now playing backup to the brick wall that shields the defence so well in Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gana Gueye. The pair have been outstanding together since Schneiderlin’s arrival in January, whereas Gana has been one of the signings of the season.

Not only has Koeman brought in the midfield pair, Tom Davies was promoted to the first team after Christmas and has played 22 times since then, scoring twice and creating a further 3 goals. His continuous graft every 90 minutes along with his no-nonsense tackles against the Premier League’s very best has seen him be tipped as a future Everton captain.

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Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, only Kane (5) and Coutinho (6) have scored more goals from outside of the area.

However, despite the midfield transformation, Koeman has continuously banged on about its lack of productivity with Ross Barkley the only real midfielder with an eye for goal. So, you’d expect Everton to bring in at least one midfielder who can score goals as well as doing the graft. It seems Koeman’s first choice is Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelandic international has bagged 10 goals and 13 assists, which would’ve made him Everton’s second highest scorer and their top assister. But he won’t come cheap with it looking like Swansea valuing him between £25m and £30m, which I’d expect Everton to match.

The likelihood though, is that Sigurdsson, wouldn’t be the only attacking midfielder to join this summer. Davy Klaassen has been heavily linked with Koeman a big admirer. The Dutchman has netted 14 times this season from central midfield.

Despite these two players being heavily linked, I’d be surprised if Steve Walsh and his scouts were not looking at the quality talent abroad. Hakim Ziyech, Ryad Boudebouz, Emil Forsberg have all impressed this season in Europe.

That leads to the big question around Ross Barkley. He’ll enter the last 12 months of his contract if he doesn’t sign on by July with Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham all rumoured to be interested. But for me, there’s no surprise he’s rejected his £100k p/w offer. Personally, I’d happily play for my club for free every day of the week. But as a professional footballer, you want to earn as much money as possible, no matter who you play for, and I think his agent has a lot to with the current situation.

Currently, Troy Deeney, Wilfried Zaha, Fabian Delph, James Milner, Jesse Lingard, Jermain Defoe, Ashley Young and Wilfried Bony all earn £100k p/w or more. Therefore, I believe his agent has pointed out that the wage isn’t as significant as it seems when you compare it to the rest of the Premier League.

I still think Barkley will eventually stay, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this drags out all summer as the Barkley and his representatives hold out for more money.

Wingers

The inconsistency of Everton’s wingers has been a problem for a quite a while now. Since Steven Pienaar’s glorious prime linking up with Leighton Baines down the left hand side, the club has struggled to find any real quality on the flanks. Kevin Mirallas, recently signing a new 3-year-deal is one of the most inconsistent players I’ve ever seen, Aiden McGeady completely flopped, as did Christian Atsu. Whereas Gerard Deulofeu is another one who is hit and miss each week.

Yannick Bolasie was signed last summer for £25m from Crystal Palace, but the pacey winger known for his magnificent flair, picked up a long-term knee injury in December and is likely to be out until 2018, similar to Seamus Coleman.

Gerard Deulofeu, Aiden McGeady are all likely to leave this summer and Aaron Lennon’s football career could be over following his detainment in May under the mental health act.

So, it seems obvious Everton need to bring in a winger or two this summer to add to the creativity on the flanks. Rachid Ghezzal has been linked again following last summers rumours and is a free agent this summer as well, Nigerian Henry Onyekuru has been linked from Belgian side KAS Eupen. Onyekuru would’ve been a good buy with the 19-year-old scoring 24 and assisting 9 and only has a buy-out-clause of just £6.8m. However, it looks like he is also off to Arsenal.

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Serge Gnabry’s 11 Bundesliga Goals helpt Werder Bremen push for a place in Europe.

In fact, my main target would be a former Arsenal player. German Serge Gnabry who has flourished scoring 11 times in an oustanding first season in the Bundesliga for Werder Bremen. The pacey winger has it all despite Arsenal deeming him not good enough. His rapid speed, trickery and end-product should mean he’s one of our top targets this summer.

Strikers

Romelu Lukaku is easily the best striker I’ve seen play for Everton. As a kid, I loved the graft Andy Johnson put in, and the pure strength Yakubu oozed. But Rom is most certainly the best striker to have played for us this century. Yes, Big Dunc is a club legend, but Rom’s already surpassed his goal scoring records and maybe if he decided to be quiet during international duty, he’d have the same admiration.

Despite rejecting a contract earlier this year, I still believe he’ll remain at the club for at least another 12 months. The club have put a price tag of £100m on the Belgian, which could put clubs off with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Andrea Belotti, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all available at cheaper prices. And although some would happily see Rom go this summer, he’s almost irreplaceable for us and would take at least two strikers to achieve similar goal tallies.

Even if Rom does stay, which I’m adamant he will. I think the club need to bring in two new forward options this summer, and they need to act quickly with every manager looking for a striker to reach 20 goals a season.

Arouna Kone, who disappeared all season until the last few games, will leave. As will loanee, Enner Valencia, who will return to West Ham, despite influencing numerous games from the bench. So, there’s two spots to fill.

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Kelechi Iheanacho, just 563 minutes played in the Premier League, last season.

First up, Kelechi Iheanacho. Increasingly linked to Valencia’s parent club, West Ham, seems ready to leave Man City this summer in the hope of first team football, and with Europa League this season we can offer that. He’ll also offer the competition Lukaku has missed in these past four seasons. Even though Iheanacho only started 7 times all season, he still netted 7 times and previously bagged 14 in the 2015/16 season. At just 20, Iheanacho would offer great competition as well as the perfect striking partner if Koeman decided to go two up top.

My other option would be ex-Barcelona forward, Sandro Ramirez. He’s flourished as Malaga’s main man this season and looks likely to move with just a £5.1m release clause in his contract. The Spaniard who scored 16 times last season would be a big buy for Everton. Not only does he score goals, but like Valencia, he can play out wide, as well as up top or behind the striker. His small yet bulky figure helps him utilise his strength to be a nuisance for any defence with his aggressive style of play.

Atletico Madrid had taken pole position for Sandro after already reportedly agreeing terms with us. However, his move to us could be back on following Atleti’s transfer ban being upheld. The former Barca man would be a massive coup at just £5.1m.

Conclusion

So that’s that. If I was given the role of Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh, we’d have quite an exciting squad for next season. And hopefully this summer is a successful one. With Europa League football, an exciting squad, the best youth team in the country and a new stadium on the horizon. There’s a lot to look forward to as an Evertonian.

Transfers IN – Transfers OUT –

Jordan Pickford Ramiro Funes Mori

Cuco Martina Luke Garbutt

Andreas Christensen James McCarthy

Harry Maguire Aiden McGeady

Kieran Tierney Shani Tarashaj

Gylfi Sigurdsson Gerard Deulofeu

Serge Gnabry Arouna Kone

Sandro Ramirez

Kelechi Iheanacho.

XI –

Jordan Pickford

Seamus Coleman – Andreas Christensen – Harry Maguire – Leighton Baines

Idrissa Gueye – Morgan Schneiderlin

Ross Barkley – Gylfi Sigurdsson – Serge Gnabry

Romelu Lukaku*

BENCH –

Joel Robles

Jonjoe Kenny

Ashley Williams

Tom Davies

Ademola Lookman

Sandro Ramirez

Kelechi Iheanacho

REST OF SQUAD –

Maarten Stekelenburg

Cuco Martina

Phil Jagielka

Brendan Galloway

Kieran Tierney

Gareth Barry

Mo Besic

Kevin Mirallas

Ademola Lookman

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

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