There has been a lot of dialog recently amongst Evertonians that are frustrated with the current club’s performance. We’ve seen lots of strong opinions coming from supporters that are already writing off players that didn’t immediately hit the turf running. Many don’t seem to like or accept the idea that we are in the middle of a significant, and overdue, rebuild under Marcel Brands and like most, want to be competing for titles. The reality of the situation is that Everton under Financial Fair Play cannot just spend its way to a title by buying ready-made players.
I have already written previously at Toffee Analysis about how the 17/18 season Everton team was extremely fortunate to finish 8th and was realistically a bottom third team. Much of the spending that season, of almost £200M (helped by sales of £114M, mostly due to the sale of Romelu Lukaku), that pushed Everton to the limits of FFP was unproductive; both on and off the field. However, what would have happened if Everton had actually spent wisely? Would Everton be a contender today? Even with the hindsight of several years in the future, could it have even been possible? In the following paragraphs we decide to take a step back and have a little fun – key word being “fun” – by playing Director of Football for a summer and hopefully set Everton on a better course in some alternative reality.
We want to again emphasise that the exercise is not scientific, but just more fun and speculative, but we had to set some parameters around it.
Hindsight. Obviously we have the benefit of it, but that’s kind of the point. This is absolutely an exploration of whether or not it would have been possible just as much as it is an exploration of how much better they could have done. However, we think it’s very likely that there were a lot of opportunities, especially in the longer run, that could have put Everton in a much better position than they are today.
Short term vs. Long term. While we do acknowledge some thoughts to the immediate present and the 17/18 season, we assume that turning that Everton team into a contender in that first year was unrealistic. As a result, with an exception or two, we were looking at players who would increase in value. Growth as a recruitment strategy is important for Everton, a club that doesn’t have the year over year revenues to have a super expensive team or allow for significant spending every window due to FFP without sales.
Sales/Manager. We make the assumption that there’s nothing Everton could have done about the summer sales of Lukaku, Deulofeu (as well as Tom Cleverly). This article is about how Everton could have spent the money we had, not how to convince Lukaku to stay. We also are make the assumption that Ronald Koeman is the manager. Both of these assumptions are questionable, but sales are realistically part of a developing side and Ronald Koeman at least has enough international cache to attract top talent. In terms of players, we acknowledge the losses are significant. Everton had sold 48% of its goals, 28% of its key passes, and 17% of its assists. We will also focus on the summer window, thus we start the season in July with a healthy – at least for a bit Ross Barkley, although perhaps not the happiest of players.
Loans. We will also acknowledge and accept those players out on loan as going out on loan. As a result, Kieran Dowell, Matthew Pennington, Tyias Browning, Connor Grant, Shani Tarashaj, and Brendan Galloway are all gone. We can argue the merits of keeping them in another article, but this one is focused on building the first team squad, and we don’t believe any of them would have made much of a difference.
Injuries. Some injuries are known going into the summer such as Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, and Yannick Bolasie. We know McCarthy is coming off of hamstring injuries and has surgery on his knee in July. We know Mo Besic is coming off ACL surgery from the previous August. We also know in the middle of August that Barkley has a serious hamstring issue, which is fairly late to have a significant impact on the window, but a consideration. Obviously, Baines was injured later in the season, so we can’t assume that’s going to happen, although everyone knew going into the season Everton lacked depth at LB.
Tactics. For simplicity, since we have assumed that Ronald Koeman is still the manager, we assume that Everton is going to play a 4231 as a base tactic and will display our first team as such.
Depth/Needs. Everton had the following players returning at their respective positions – ages are in parenthesis and asterisk indicate player is injured:
GK: Joel Robles (27), Martin Stekelenburg (34), Mateusz Hewelt (20)
Robles was a big question mark as well Stekelenburg, so the predominant thought was that Everton was going to buy a goalkeeper.
LB: Leighton Baines (32), Luke Garbutt (24)
Baines had lost a step and Garbutt was a big question mark as well. Most believed Everton needed a young talent to either push or replace Baines soon.
CB: Ramiro Funes Mori* (26), Mason Holgate (20), Ashley Williams (32), Phil Jagielka (34)
Ashley Williams wasn’t THAT dreadful in his first year, but with Mori injured, and both he and Jagielka ageing, there was an obvious need for a bonafide starter at CB.
RB: Seamus Coleman* (28), Jonjoe Kenny (20)
It’s worth noting that Mason Holgate was perceived to be a bit of a tweener in terms of RB/CB at this point. He had played almost 1400 minutes the prior season, so he was definitely in the mix at this point, albeit with mixed results. We are not counting on Tom Davies playing RB, however.
DM/CM: Morgan Schneiderlin (27), Idrissa Gueye (27), Mo Besic* (24), Tom Davies (19), James McCarthy* (26), Beni Baningime (18), Ross Barkley* (24)
Schneiderlin and Gueye had played really well in the 2nd half of the year and while Ross was definitely not happy with Koeman by the end of the year, he still was very productive, even if there were signs of him starting to be more of the player he is now. At least in most people’s eyes, there were 3 starters here, however Barkley’s injury was a serious concern and depth was badly needed due to injuries.
LW: Yannick Bolasie* (28), Ademola Lookman (19)
Bolasie’s knee injury was brutal and while Lookman showed glimpses of talent, I don’t believe anyone was comfortable with him being the starter at LW, although Mirallas could play here as well so at least there were some numbers.
RW: Kevin Mirallas (29), Aaron Lennon (30)
Mirallas was showing signs of serious decline and while Lennon was a hard worker, I don’t believe anyone thought he was worthy of the starting RW role.
CF: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (20), Oumar Niasse (27)
DCL was nowhere near the level he is at right now and I don’t believe anyone would’ve be fine with Niasse playing CF, least of all Ronald Koeman. And no we aren’t going to give Oumar a locker in our scenario.
Upon first glance, that’s a pretty terrible team with needs at literally every position. However, Everton did spend £140M in the summer, so at least there’s a significant kitty. Realistically, though, even with that large a budget, Everton would have to accept some less than optimal players at certain positions. Certainly Everton needed a CB, CF, LW, and probably even a RW that could step in and start. They were short at GK, RB, and LB as well, and all the injuries in the middle along with playing 2 DMs, seemed to necessitate additional depth to support an early starting European campaign.
Transfers In. We are going to assume that Everton can absorb a similar salary hit, which is quite simply significant for lack of a better term. Although Everton cannot afford a James Rodriquez type salary, we honestly didn’t rule out anyone but a handful due to salary constraints. We are also absolutely going to use hindsight as noted above because again, we want to explore the type of business a great Sporting Director COULD have pulled off. As a result, we’ll present two scenarios. We will give a more realistic recommendation and follow-up with what would’ve been an absolute home run ideal scenario.
We are going to try and stick with players that DID move in that same window with a few exceptions and also are not going to get into too many obscure players as this is a quick look for fun. We aren’t going to go completely nuts here with playing Sporting Director, just going with mostly known commodities. We are also going to try and avoid buying ageing players and Everton needs to grow in value and returns on players is of critical importance. This is an absolutely critical factor because Everton can simply not afford it. It also aligns with the reshaped thinking of Farhad Moshiri in hiring Marcel Brands, who had made it clear that it was not possible to turn this project around in a year or two and for Farhad to not hire him if those were the expectations.
Without further adieu, we break down our window by position because frankly, Everton need something at virtually every place on the pitch.
GK – Realistic: Mathew Ryan, Valencia, 6M.
Ryan went from Valencia to Brighton initially for £5.3M. Everton outbids Brighton and bring in the Australian. With the needs Everton had, Ryan is a cost-effective acquisition that I don’t think would be a downgrade from Jordan Pickford. It doesn’t break the budget and allows Everton to go bigger in other areas. He was coming off a solid performance in the Confederations Cup (his match against Chile in particular) and is probably a better shot stopper, although he doesn’t have the expansive (albeit inconsistent) distribution game than Pickford has. Beyond that, Joel Robles is a capable backup, so this isn’t really taking much of a risk in my opinion.
The Ideal isn’t so far fetched, however. Szczesny went to Juventus for £12M in the window to sit behind Buffon. Everton pays a bit more and makes him a starter. Szczesny was playing well at Roma and while an offer from Juventus is hard to turn down, convincing him to be the #1 GK at Everton should be possible. Arsenal might not want to move him, but he was 3rd on the depth chart there, so money talks. Szczesny would’ve turned out to be a massive upgrade over Jordan Pickford of course. Either way, both he or Mat Ryan would represent better value for money.
LB – Realistic: Ferland Mendy, Le Havre, £6M. Everton hijacks the deal to Lyon and money talks. Mendy plays understudy to Leighton Baines until he’s ready.
LB – Ideal: Andrew Robertson, Hull City, £12M.
Everton hijacks the £4.5M deal to Lyon and again, money talks. Mendy plays understudy to Leighton Baines until he’s ready, which might be sooner rather than later. He also commands a relatively low salary and is a cost effective backup to Baines. We thought about putting Andrew Robertson in the realistic scenario as there were strong rumors that Everton was seriously considering making an offer. Perhaps there was a better chance of Robertson starting at Liverpool than at Everton and who’s to say Liverpool wouldn’t have upped their bid. But in our ideal scenario, we indicate that Everton wins the Liverpool bidding war by going up to £12M. Robertson actually went to Liverpool for around £8M.
I also considered Theo Hernandez, who went to Real Madrid for 22M and was immediately loaned out to Real Sociedad, although Everton would’ve really had to overpay to beat out Real Madrid and surely wouldn’t have gone to Everton on loan with Some other considerations were that Nicolás Tagliafico went to Ajax in January for £4M, so perhaps he could’ve been had earlier – or a deal set up to make that happen in the summer. Ultimately, I liked the idea of going for a younger player to mix in with the older Baines. I considered others such as Angeliño, who was back at Man City after a successful stint at NYCFC a year prior and eventually loaned out to Girona. He eventually went to PSV for £10M a year or so later. Frankly, there were a lot of younger, talented LBs that could’ve likely been plucked from teams for a decent fee, but any of these options were better than Cuco Martina. How Everton could spend that much without getting an adequate backup was beyond me. Even if someone like Ferland Mendy was exposed a bit if forced into action after Baines went down with injury, it would’ve been better for the future for him to get the playing time.
CB – Realistic: Steven De Vrij, Lazio, £30M. Abdou Diallo, Monaco, £6M.
CB – Ideal: Virgil Van Dijk, Southampton, £60M. Ibrahima Konaté, free.
De Vrij left on a free the next summer for Inter and played under Koeman at Feyenoord. Rumor had it that Chelsea was after him, but to not accept that fee and let him go on a free would be crazy. There were other alternatives as well as that we considered. Milan Skriniar went to Inter from Sampdoria for £31M, which was also a consideration as he was younger. There would be some concern about how well each would fit in the PL, but we are talking about massive upgrades over everyone at the position on the roster. Bayern got a bargain in Niklas Sule from Hoffenheim for £18M, but most German players aren’t turning down Bayern offers. Diallo had played in a handful of Ligue 1 matches for Monaco, all of the cup matches, and had looks in the France U21 side, so he would at least provide some initial competition. We also thought about Nikola Milenkovic, who moved from Partizan to Fiorentina for under £5M and it’s not crazy to suggest Everton needed two upgrades looking at the personnel. However, we have to accept that Everton didn’t have any additional sales as part of our revisit. I personally was tempted to throw Djené Dakonam in the options as well as he would’ve been wildly entertaining and moved for just over £2M from Sint-Truiden to Getafe.
The REAL question is how much it would’ve taken to get VVD come to Everton. Rumor has it Napoli turned down a Koulibaly bid of £60M and my thoughts are that if it happened early enough in the summer, Southampton would’ve sold. Regardless, that type of fee isn’t any more insane than expecting Michael Keane to come in from Burnley and easily transition to a more expansive defensive configuration. While Kean is a decent PL center back, he’s not a very good fit for the way Everton wanted to play then and now. And he’s certainly not in the league of the names mentioned above.
Obviously, a whole group of young CBs could’ve been had for almost nothing that summer. Ibrahima Konaté went to RB Leipzig on a free from Sonchaux and was starting for the Ligue 2 side, so I put him in there, but it could’ve been several others. Dan-Axel Zagadou went from PSG to Dortmund on a free. Merih Demiral was a lesser known player with raw ability at Alcanenense and moved to Sporting for almost nothing, but there were several more. Kurt Zouma even moved to Stoke on loan and might have helped. There were lots of options at this position and again, if Everton didn’t already have numbers at this position, we would’ve thrown a few more in there perhaps. Either way, this was another lost opportunity for Everton to lock down this position for years to come.
RB – Realistic: Ricardo Pereira, FC Porto, £22M.
RB – Ideal: João Cancelo, Valencia, Loan.
Ricardo Pereira was playing well for Nice on loan from Porto and at least one source rated him as the best RB in Ligue 1. Leicester bought him a year later for £20M, but Everton activate his release clause from Porto early. João Cancelo actually went on loan to Inter, so the ideal would be to pull him into the Kenny / Holgate mix and defer buying a right back until the next year when we could make a better assessment of how Coleman would bounce back from injury.
There are a couple less expensive options that were interesting. Nordi Mukiele eventually moved to RB Leipzig, but he probably could’ve been gotten from Montpellier for less than what RBL paid for him in the next summer, which was around £15M. We went back and forth between him and Cancelo considering we rate Mukiele as one of the best RBs in the world and he’s capable of playing CB. There were also young, cheap options for Dutch players as well where Everton could’ve leveraged Koeman as the manager. Denzel Dumfries went to Heerenveen from Sparta Rotterdamn for £675K. Kenny Tete went from Ajax to Lyon for under £4M. There were also bargains elsewhere. In Italy, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, who is a pretty good player, went from Matera to Empoli for only £500K.
DEFENSIVE / CENTRAL MID
CM – Realistic: Denis Zakaria, BSC Young Boys, £15M, Tanguy Ndombélé, Amiens, Loan + Option to buy £10M, Armine Harit, Nantes, £8M.
CM – Ideal: Zakaria + Ndombélé, Bruno Fernandes, Sampdoria, £10M, Boubakary Soumaré PSG, Free, Jonathan David, Ottawa, Free.
There wasn’t a ton of pressure to add here until Barkley got hurt, but realistically, Everton couldn’t go into a European campaign with only Tom Davies and Beni Baningame as healthy backups. So we decide to go big because, frankly, there were so many opportunities for top class talent that could’ve helped Everton we barely knew where to start and we knew it wasn’t realistic to expect teams to come after Gana Gueye. Everton blow away Monchengladbach for Zakaria and also pick up Ndombele, both of which have tremendous versatility. Although maybe not his best position, with Barkley going down later in the window, Ndombele can step into the 10 role and push Barkley out wide even if he returns if Everton wants to mix it up. He can play deeper against a poorer side. Zakaria can ease into a backup role for Schneiderlin or play to free up Gana to go win balls all over the pitch. He’s also played higher as well.
The ideal was almost impossible to settle on a recommendation. There were so many good midfielders available it was hard to narrow things down. Knowing Barkley was out long term or that he might leave, Everton could’ve gotten Bruno Fernandes on the cheap, but he went earlier in the window so not sure that’s fair. We considered him to be part of the realistic scenario, but liked the flexibility of Ndombele and Zakaria. Obviously, the talents of David and Soumare for free would be a complete coup, with tremendous hindsight of course. It was really hard not to include one of my favorite players, Armine Harit, who moved from Nantes to Schalke for £7M and was probably a bit more ready to play in the PL than Fernandes at that moment in time. He also wasn’t really a replacement for Barkly though, because he as well went earlier in the window.
Beyond that, we looked at many other deals for medium prices that could’ve really helped Everton build a future world class midfield that it is so lacking now. Ruben Neves going to Wolves for £16M was a bargain, but realistically that was a pipeline deal due to the Mendes relationship at Wolves. Wilfred Ndidi from Genk for £16M was another wise move for a smart Leicester side. Franck Kessie’s 2-year loan with an option to buy was interesting, although he debatably regressed at Milan. Thiago Mendes moved to Lyon from Sao Paulo for £9M. Santiago Ascacíbar went to Stuttgart from Estudiantes for £5M and could’ve been a young, future replacement for Gana (when he’s not kicking people). Gaetano Castrovilli went to Fiorentina from Bari for £1M, which is pretty hard to beat. The list goes on.
Ultimately, this was the key area Everton really missed the boat on. For the fee of Gylfi Sigurdsson alone, the number of combinations of players that would’ve been better fits for the PL is astounding.
RW – REALISTIC: Bertrand Traoré, Chelsea, £15M
RW – IDEAL: Ismaïla Sarr, Metz, £18M
Traoré maybe wouldn’t have been the better deal in the long run, but he was a regular starter for a pretty good Ajax team and ready to step into the PL even if it was a significant jump. Everton outbids everyone for them and Chelsea feels compelled to sell. He’s still to this day a good goal scoring winger that also can press effectively. Plus, it saves Everton the embarrassment of him destroying them in the Europa League with Lyon a couple months later.
It was a tough call for the Ideal, but we decided to outbid Stade Rennais for Sarr as he was probably more ready to play than Nicolas Pépé, who went to Lille from Angers for £9M. Both were contributing to their clubs in France, but Sarr had broken the starting lineup for Metz. Either one as well as Serge Gnabry, who moved to Bayern for around £7M, likely would’ve struggled to adjust to the PL in the short term. Perhaps Everton could’ve dealt with Mirallas/Lennon for a bit longer and eased one of these guys in. But in the long run, each of these guys are massive upgrades.
There were several other considerations, but scoping up a 30 year old Josip Ilicic for less than £5M would’ve been a bit TOO much hindsight in my opinion. I also found it interesting that Douglas Costa was sent on loan with a big loan fee to Juventus. That would’ve been tempting, but even with the perfect moves, this Everton side isn’t going to be a contender in 17/18. Juan Cuadrado went to Juvenuts as well from Chelsea for £20M, but again, that’s really getting away from the strategy of buying a bit lower and building value.
RW – REALISTIC: Gonçalo Guedes, PSG, Loan.
LW – IDEAL: Richarlison, Fluminense, £15M.
Guedes is a very good player that was playing mostly as a RW for Benfica, but ended up playing on the left for Valencia. Everton outbids Valencia and pays Jorge Mendes off to get a loan deal done for the Portuguese winger. That being said, it’s pretty hard for any Evertonian to ignore the obvious Ideal scenario as most Everton fans love Richarlison, but we wanted to give an additional option. Richarlison getting a work permit was actually a bit of a surprise for Watford, but Everton outbidding them would’ve make that a lot easier. There are some elite left sided attackers in world football, but all have been expensive for some time, so there aren’t too many bargains out there. A couple other options we considered were Kingsley Coman, who went for approximately £18M to Bayern from Juventus and Hirving Lozano, who went from Pachuca to PSV for just under £12M. I love Chucky, but as someone that is very familiar with North American football (or soccer to some), that’s just a massive jump even if it would be a commercial coup. He’s literally the most popular North American soccer player on the planet.
CF – REALISTIC: Seb Haller, Utrecht, £8M. Edin Dzeko, £20M.
CF – IDEAL: Dzeko, Erling Håland, Molde, £5M
This position was almost impossible and we admittedly went off script. Keep in mind, Arsenal signed Alexandre Lacazette for £48M early in the summer, which really set the market on center forwards. Upon review, there were really no perfect solutions and only question marks. I remember how difficult it was when it was happening as well, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of a plan. Giroud wasn’t signing with Everton and it was foolish to bank on that happening. As far as the short term, there were several loans out there that might have worked at different levels of risk including Tammy Abraham, M’Baye Niang, Ishak Belfodil, Gabigol, Carlos Bacca, but it wouldn’t be fair to throw those players into the mix with the expectation of replacing Lukaku. To me, the only player I thought that was available was Edin Dzeko. Dzeko is older and goes completely against the growth strategy, but he was so far and way the best option we thought that was actually possible out there and is still a fantastic player today. Sebatian Haller showed a lot of potential at Utrecht, was actually linked to Everton, and he and Dominic-Calvert Lewin could’ve played behind Dzeko until they were ready to play more. The other strong consideration was Cedric Bakambu who eventually went to Beijing in the winter from Villareal for £36M, and absolutely lit up the Chinese league as one would expect. I can’t help but think Villareal accepts £30M for him if it’s early in the window and perhaps that’s a better idea than Edin Dzeko. Willian Jose was my choice at the time, but again, Everton was still looking at £25M to £30M for him.
For the Ideal, Haaland just got to Molde and was banging them in during July and August. A late buy and loanback for the rest of the season would’ve been perfect with hindsight of course. Keep in mind, in the Ideal, we have Richarlison who can play CF. We also know about Steve Walsh’s exaggerated tales of having Haaland at Everton the subsequent summer for £4M and while he had just signed in February, it would be unlikely that Molde would turn down that type of fee at the time.
Going through the other options, again, there aren’t many superstars in the mix. There were several aging players that moved that could’ve maybe helped, but were nowhere near the level of Dzeko. Llorente and Bony were two older players that moved, Jermain Defoe was on a free, Alvardo Negredo went to Besiktas from Valencia for around £2M, but all these players were far past their primes. Luis Muriel is a terrific player that went to Sevilla from Sampdoria for £22M, but he was a risk and probably isn’t the perfect traditional 9 in the PL. Maybe Everton could’ve made a stronger run at less proven players that clearly had talent such as Bathusayi, Moussa Dembele, or even Gabigol on a permanent. Many think Keita Balde who went to Lyon for £20M the next summer is underrated, but again, that’s a big ask to replace Romelu Lukaku. Arnautovic went to West Ham from Stoke for £25M, but he wasn’t young. Chicharito moved for £16M, but don’t think he was the answer, either.
There are obviously a ton of speculation and assumptions behind these transfers. We also have the benefit of hindsight as we’ve already mentioned. But the results are interesting for sure. First thing of note is that the salaries added are massive. However, they are actually very close to what Everton added in the window and lower in total than the overall outlay for the season, especially when the January additions of Mangala on loan, Walcott, and Tosun are added to the mix for approximately £250K a week (and that might a conservative estimate).
Below we have a list of all the business we did above and follow it up with what the first team squad would look like in Koeman’s preferred 4231 that Everton were playing at the end of the 2016/17 season.
Realistic. Obviously a lot can happen when redoing the past, but the total market value of these players now even after the massive decreases due to the current epidemic more than doubles (and that’s not counting the loans as buys with the exception of Ndombele). The total transfer fees are also less than what Everton spent in the summer.
It’s also worth noting that adding 11 players in a single window is almost impossible to integrate, although the losses and injuries almost made it necessary. Thankfully, several of these players wouldn’t need to step in right away. Mendy, Diallo, and Haller certainly wouldn’t, and Ndombele and Zakaria might not need to, either. It’s also worth noting that not a single one of these players are English nationals. That’s not intentional, but it may say something about values. Regardless, Everton should have enough English and Homegrown players on their roster to qualify for both the Europa League and the PL.
If there are areas the team is light in it’s probably Center Back, where Diallo might not quite be ready to step in, thus hoping one of Jagielka, Williams, or Holgate could emerge. That’s also a bit of how the season played out as the Everton defense was awful in general, although that wasn’t just due to poor central defense. The additions of the wide defenders as well as more depth in midfield would help. Losing Ross Barkley that late also robbed Everton of its key playmaker. This happened relatively late in the window, so unless Everton wanted to make a suboptimal play for a #10 as a short term fix – and there were a couple in August that were available – it could probably let Ndombele or Tom Davies get a shot at the job. Zakaria also played higher at times so he might have been worth a look. Even Ademola Lookman or Kevin Mirallas could be considerations. Either way, the short term attack of Dzeko, Guedes, and the central midfield would be formidable, and the future of the squad above is remarkably bright, with the ability to add in the Winter window also still a possibility.
Ideal. The transfer fees under the more ideal scenario are beyond what Everton spent in the summer, but the salaries are less, and Everton did spend quite a bit in the Winter window, so it’s not unreasonable to suggest this was possible. The total market value of this squad now is almost 3 times more than the total feeds paid in our Ideal scenario. The squad is definitely impressive, but the potential of the squad would be remarkable today and that’s without even subsequent windows and additional spending. Therefore, if a Director of Football really did a remarkable job spending that kind of money in that summer, Everton could truly have the foundation of a remarkable team.
Again, several of these players would not be pressured to play immediately. But the squad below does show that there was some remarkable talent available for very little money, and we didn’t even decide to go too crazy on free players as there were others we could have added. Obviously this is with supreme hindsight, but there are bargains to be had, especially in France where teams like PSG simply cannot provide enough opportunities for young talented players like Boubakary Soumare. Konate is another young, talented French player available on a free, and there were several others. Jonathan David came from an underserved market, but we was able to get a work permit and shows how that type of thinking can pay dividends.
Again, there might be a lack of depth at Center Back, but Szczesny had a good 17/18 season and is one of the best keepers in the game, which would help. There’s also only so much a team can do in a single window and Everton had huge holes to fill. However, the future of this team in attack is world class. Imagine a future front 4 of Richarlison, Dzeko / Haland / DCL, Sarr with Bruno Fernandes / Jonathan David behind, and more dynamic offensive players at both fullbacks & defensive/central mid. It would be one of the best on the planet in a couple of years. Add in the ability to spend in the subsequent summers without feeling pressure to replace Gueye if he chose to move, and Everton would be in a very different situation today.
While it’s easy to conduct this type of exercise with 20/20 hindsight, it does show that with a very good Director of Football, a sound strategy, and an influx of funds, the opportunities are there for a smart team to amass a tremendous amount of talent in a very short time. We also think that the combination of injuries and losses were even larger than perhaps even we remembered. The fact that bringing in 11 new faces still couldn’t cover all the holes is rather telling. Even the talented teams above would’ve taken some time to gel just due to having that many new faces in one team. But one cannot argue that there were a ton of talent players available that would’ve been much better selections than those made in the summer of 2017.