Everton Transfer Series: Part 5 – Centre-Forward

This transfer series has been written in the midst of ‘project restart’ and while Everton have mainly underwhelmed, at least in their performances, the return of football hasn’t revealed new, crippling deficiencies in Everton’s squad, instead has just made the calls for further quality in specific areas louder.

Seamus Coleman has been fine, but still offers nothing offensively, a new right-back is needed. Michael Keane has done well, and Jarrad Branthwaite looks like a real coup from Carlisle, but Yerry Mina’s and Mason Holgate’s injuries have increased the needs for a centre-back who can be a high-calibre defender whilst also being a mainstay in the starting XI. Central-midfield has, if anything, got worse. Tom Davies really needs a loan, Gylfi Sigurdsson is clearly past his “best”, Andre Gomes has only shown glimpses of what he can or should be doing, and Fabien Delph is MIA. A gaping hole that needs filling asap. And though it’s tough to judge or criticise either Richarlison or Calvert-Lewin since the restart, the side needs goals, it needs dangerous players and as Carlo Ancelotti put it in his final pre-match press conference, “better quality”.

Primarily, the focus will be to share the goals around the side, and in doing so expand the threat the team carries, as before mentioned throughout this series – we need dangerous players, whether a right-back or a right-midfielder, you need threat.

Ancelotti’s press-conference ahead of the final game of the season was quite a good one for exciting sound bites, one line, in particular, most significant; “the summer, for sure, will be an evolution of the club”, such an important viewpoint and attitude both in terms of the search for a potential new striker or the transfer window as a whole. It’s an outlook that is needed not just at Finch Farm, but within the fanbase too. Ancelotti was brought in for his prestige, the type of calibre that has been missing within the club for decades, but I believe people are almost misinterpreting Ancelotti’s presence and his history of coaching the big teams by crying out for “big names” or “winners” in terms of signings we need, players who have already been there and done it. The main narrative is that Ancelotti was brought in for his history of winning, for his big-club mentality, and for me, it should, therefore, be up to the Italian to spread that mindset rather than buy it. Albeit that does pose the question that if Ancelotti has done it before (whatever ‘it’ is), then you should back him and most importantly, trust him. And whilst that’s true, Everton do need a mentality change, but I don’t want Everton to buy it, I want them to breed it, to create it themselves. Like many have noted since that press conference, it’s evolution, not revolution.

The Current Crop

Everton should be looking for youth, for excitement, for players who are determined to kick-on and grow (or evolve), players who are desperate to succeed and win, it’s no surprise that the young trio -of Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Mason Holgate seem to be the most ambitious or motivated, it’s no surprise that the likes of Fabian Delph seem the opposite – he’s had his career and his success, the others haven’t.

In consequence, another striker could be one of the most pivotal areas to add that type of player, albeit signing a forward is very dependent on other moves and how financially restrained the club are this summer.

The main sticking point for bringing in an extra striker this summer is in fact, solely dependent on what happens to that right-midfield position. Seemingly the club see another wide-player as the priority, although the front two of Dom & Richarlison hasn’t been spectacular since the restart, in Ancelotti’s initial spell the pair excelled in a far more effective 4-4-2 and the duo looked perfect next to each – so as mentioned in the previous piece, moving Richarlison back out-wide likely wouldn’t be the preferred solution, but it could still happen.

Everton need goals, outside of that pairing of Dom & Richy, the next highest goal scorer is Bernard with three, then there’s a handful on two and a couple more with one, so an extra source of goals is a necessity. Preferably, Everton need another player to get into double figures next season, having Richarlison & Dom get 15 apiece, and a winger getting around 10-ish, would be massively beneficial, add that to Moise Kean who will hopefully kick-on next season too, then those goals alone should fire Everton up the table.

But who and what do the club need?

From reading between-the-lines, a winger who can get close to 15 goals and assists next season is what the Everton hierarchy want – problem being, those type of wide-players, especially goalscoring ones, come at a hefty price, for instance, it’s much cheaper to add a 10-goal-a-season striker than it is a 10-goal-a-season winger.

So, if its goals that Ancelotti & Brands want from that position, then they might be staring at their answer already. There is no doubt that Richarlison is better suited as a striker, especially when in a front two rather than as a lone #9, but the fact is, no matter where you put him in the side, he will score goals, and he will work hard. And is that not the supposed criteria for that right-midfield position? Someone who can add goals, whilst simultaneously being able to track-back and work his bollocks off for the team.

Richarlison grabbed 13 goals and in his debut season with the Toffees, primarily as a winger, and 13 goals this season, primarily as a striker – if he can replicate that again next season, whilst adding another striker who can get double figures or more, while also hoping that both Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean can develop further too, then all of a sudden Everton will have more threat, and more capability to kill teams off that they’ve had in the 15 years that I’ve had to endure watching us.

The likelihood will be that the club initially go for a quality right-midfielder, but if priced-out of moves, then looking for another striker would be an astute decision, the question is though – who could that striker be?

Personal Choices – 

Ollie Watkins –

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  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 24
  • Club: Brentford
  • Position: Centre-Forward
  • Other Positions: Winger
  • TransferMarkt Value: £10.8m
  • Expected Value: £18-22m

Following Neal Maupay’s move to Brighton & Hove Albion last summer, the decision was made by Brentford that they would replace the Frenchman in-house, moving their highly thought-of, Ollie Watkins, from out-wide to up-top, and it’s been quite an inspiring decision with Watkins notching 25 goals, no other player netted more non-penalty goals in the Championship in the 19/20 season, and in doing so has become one of the most coveted players from the 2nd division, and if Brentford (currently in the play-offs) fail to get promoted, his reported £18m release clause will surely entice quite a few top-flight clubs this summer.

Watkins has impressed as a lone #9 this season in one of the Championship’s best-performing sides, his 25 goals are enough to catch anyone’s eye, but it’s the rest of his game that could see him turn into quite an appealing option for the Blues this summer. He’s a grafter, something seen as an absolute necessity in all Everton sides, if you run and work hard, Evertonians will appreciate you. Add his hard-work to his intelligence off-the-ball, his movement in behind, his poaching instincts, and his creative qualities too, Watkins could turn out to be a smart-buy for the club.

As already mentioned, before this season, Watkins was used generally as a winger either side in a 4-3-3 under both Dean Smith and Thomas Frank, and in his first two full seasons with the Bees, Watkins returned with double figures in both campaigns, similar to Richarlison almost, it seems no matter where he plays, he’ll get you goals. His transition from a speedy, intricate winger to a menacing striker will be key if the club need any convincing of his ability – versatility is massive for all signings, far too many times in recent years have we signed players who suit one particular position or one particular system, Watkins would be the opposite of that.

Positionally, he’s flexible, great, but it’s his effectiveness in various positions that could see him being the best choice to play alongside Calvert-Lewin next season. Albeit I might contradict myself with this point later on in the piece, if you’re playing with a front two, which seems most likely under Ancelotti, it’s imperative that your forward pairing aren’t too similar, in fact, the only aspect that they should both be equally good at, is getting goals. A partnership of Watkins and Calvert-Lewin would represent this.

Dom’s biggest asset is his impact as a target-man. Whether that be holding the ball up, often casually trapping the ball with his upper-body, and laying it off for those around him, or running down the channel and stretching defences, acting almost like the perfect get-out when the side is pinned back around their own box. Watkins would complement this effortlessly. He looks competent coming short, flicking it off to runners beyond him, and is even better at stretching high-lines himself – we’ve seen it a few times with Dom & Richy, but pinpoint passes to Dom, who could then flick on to the on-running Watkins, would be an effective way of exposing opposition sides – especially when away from home when Everton seem to adopt a more conservative way of playing.

In essence, whilst mainly being an effective way of opening up an opposition, playing besides DCL will be a good way of bypassing a weakness that would be exposed more so in the Premier League than it is in the Championship, especially if he moved to a side in the lower depths of the table where the style of play contrasts Brentford’s. Height-wise, he’s not the biggest and in consequence, isn’t the greatest in the air (2.3 aerial duels won p90), and playing alone up-front, isolated from the rest of his side, could hinder him big time – Ancelotti’s 4-4-2, next to Calvert-Lewin, could be the best system for him, one that would make his transition to the Premier League as smooth as possible.

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Offensively, as the visual signifies, Watkins has a strong out-put, both in terms of quality and quantity. In fact, the data measures up to the eye-test completely when it comes to Watkins. He doesn’t shoot in masses, but the shot locations and quality of said shots are fairly good, 0.19 xG/shot is a good example of that (Richarlison, 0.1 & DCL, 0.17 in comparison), he’s currently out-performing his overall xG numbers, with 26 goals from an xG of 22.32, and with Calvert-Lewin up top (someone I rate highly, but admittingly isn’t the best of finishers), someone clinical, like Watkins, could be the perfect partner. With two strikers up top, I see the front paring working best when you don’t have two conventional strikers, instead rather having one to play as the main figurehead, and the other having the ability to drop deep and interfere in play – it’s why Salzburg’s Hwang Hee-Chan would’ve been such a good move for the Toffees before RB Leipzig inevitably got there first.

One of the main attractions in signing Watkins, or someone similar even, is in some way beyond just the footballing side of things. As of writing, social media is engulfed with discussion over experience and mentality, in particular, that Everton need more so-called ‘experienced’ players or ‘peak’ players, my perspective is practically poles apart, and Watkins is possibly the perfect demonstration as to why. Watkins’ career-path so far involves just three clubs, Exeter City, a loan spell with Weston-Super-Mare, and his current club Brentford – four seasons in League Two, a year in the Conference South, and so far, three seasons in the Championship – nearly 230 career games in the lower leagues of English football, seven years of constant progress and development. Why is this important? Mentality. Character. A want to not just play at the highest level, but to succeed – it’s something Moyes’ Everton sides relied on heavily, but it worked, having a squad full of players who want to prove themselves can be heavily beneficial, and Watkins fits into that category.

Those that have watched Watkins over the play-off games for Brentford, will have seen that exemplified in his performances too. Whilst he’s been a pivotal goalscoring threat for the Bees this season, his graft and intelligence off-the-ball has been unrivalled – in a similar way to Calvert-Lewin in the early years at Everton, he would chase every lost cause there was to chase. Add that to his poaching instincts, to his pace and movement in-behind, and his versatility and flexibility in positioning, Watkins could be a steal and a type of transfer Everton should be all over.

Jonathan David –

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  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Age: 20
  • Club: KAA Gent
  • Position: Centre-Forward
  • Other Positions: Attacking-Midfielder, Winger
  • TransferMarkt Value: £20.25m
  • Expected Value: £25-30m

That ‘false 9’ role could be a key measurement for Everton when judging possible centre-forward targets this summer and Canadian poster boy Jonathan David may just be the perfect fit. The current Gent attacker, after another stellar season in the Belgian top-flight, is quickly becoming one of the most wanted u21 players in Europe with the likes of Lille and Gladbach interested, and could possibly be one of the smartest moves that Everton could make, both for footballing reasons and for marketing. Everton had Tim Howard for 10 years and did next to nothing with that, the signing of David would be another opportunity to exploit the overseas markets, and with a new stadium in reach, every financial or marketing resource will be beneficial for the Blues.

Whilst from that viewpoint, David would be an astute buy anyway, he also happens to be a fairly good footballer too, with Everton supposedly watching the Canadian multiple times over the last few years as his progress has rocketed whilst playing in a league that kickstarted the careers of Romelu Lukaku, Wilfred Ndidi & Kevin de Bruyne to name just a select few.

David had a strong first season outside of Canada, with 12 goals and 2 assists in his debut campaign for Gent, with a further 17 goal involvements across all competitions for club and country in 2018/19, but the Canadian youngster has kicked on even further this season, with David taking his league form into the Europa League as the 2019/20 season ended with David plucking up 23 goals and 9 assists across the two competitions – some doing considering his season ended abruptly in March.

His Europa League form especially will have been the main magnetism for clubs across Europe, David performing in the Jupiler Pro League is one thing, but his consistency in goal involvements, and more importantly his underlying numbers, in both league and Europe is massive for forecasting how well David would develop or translate for a club competing in a much tougher league like Everton do. Whilst David’s numbers definitely do take a dip (as expected both in terms of the superior quality in opposition, and the shorter sample size), the hallmarks of his player ID is again fairly consistent.

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The above data visual is an example of how strong the Gent forward has performed in the Belgian top flight this season, he is overperforming his xG tally over the season, with 18 league goals from an xG of 12.66, but as mentioned with Watkins in comparison to Calvert-Lewin, this isn’t exactly the worst thing. His Europa League numbers in front of goal do dip, but they’re still good for someone who is playing in his first full European campaign, with opposition such as Paulo Fonseca’s Roma, Oliver Glasner’s Wolfsburg, and Claude Puel’s Saint Etienne – 0.25 xG90 from 1.84 shots, whilst also having some solid indicators of his impact outside the box too, 0.09 xA (not the greatest) but 2.94 and 2.13 passes into the final 3rd and into the box as well as 1.82 attempted dribbles p90 too.

David’s numbers are good, it’s mainly why he’s such an appealing option before you even have to watch him, and then when you do watch him, it becomes even more apparent as to why he would be such an asset for Ancelotti’s 4-4-2. The Canadian, despite his great goal out-put, isn’t an out-and-out striker, albeit not similar players, he’s almost like Richarlison in that you see two very different players when up-front on his own, and when in a two. Yet David’s best stuff this season has arguably came when he’s played as Gent’s #10, behind the two strikers in their 4-1-2-1-2 with David at the tip of the diamond.

Again, just like Watkins, versatility is instrumental – not just for now under Ancelotti, but for future tactical systems too. David, albeit consistently portraying his effectiveness from that #10 position, could translate that to become a productive second-striker next to Calvert-Lewin next season. His play in the final-third, finding pockets between opposition midfields and defences, is the exact type of player Everton need following Ancelotti’s switch to 4-4-2 – when attacking, the side practically ignores every other avenue of chance creation that doesn’t involve getting wide and crossing into the box, in fact, their activity directly outside the box, is most similar to Burnley than any other Premier League side.

The likelihood of David moving to the Blues this summer is admittingly low, as sighted in the previous transfer pieces, evidence from Brands’ transfer dealings so far at the club suggest he isn’t one to splash the cash on players who haven’t proven themselves in top competitions already – Bernard and Jarrad Branthwaite, costing a combined £900k in transfer fees have been the only exceptions so far. David is a promising, exciting player, who has the potential to really explode if given the chance, but with Gent wanting over £25m+ for his services, Everton will almost certainly be put-off. And yet I still hope the club will be all over him, even if his price tag is fairly high for someone coming from Belgium – the talent is obvious, in many ways he would tick practically every box if a new striker was seen as a ‘transfer need’, and if anything, represents the exact type of deal that Everton should be looking to complete; buy for a decent price, hope that he develops considerably over 3 or 4 years, and sell big afterwards.

Odsonne Edouard –

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  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 22
  • Club: Celtic
  • Position: Centre-Forward
  • Other Positions: N/A
  • TransferMarkt Value: £13.50m
  • Expected Value: £20-25m

If you’re ever discussing Roberto Martinez’s time at Everton these days, one anecdote that will almost always pop up is Martinez’s transfer nightmare in the summer of 2015 when given the opportunity to sign a then decent centre-back from Celtic (and now arguably the best in the world) in Virgil van Dijk, the former Wigan manager instead chose the lovable, passion merchant, late-night barbecuing South American, Ramiro Funes Mori. Martinez obviously wouldn’t have been able to foresee the career path that VVD has consequently taken after he moved to Southampton instead, but the move represented one of many failings from the Spaniard, also conveying why the Scottish market (unlike when David Moyes was in charge), in many ways like the Championship, should not be ignored, even if it is looked down on by the average fan. Since Van Dijk’s move south of the border, the likes of Moussa Dembele, Stuart Armstrong and Kieran Tierney have all moved elsewhere and fairly impressed – now, Everton has another chance to latch onto the next big thing currently playing in Scottish football, and he might just be, that eventual replacement for Romelu Lukaku (everyone will compare the two at some point so may as well get it in there early).

With the departure of Moussa Dembele expected, Scottish giants Celtic loaned in PSG youth-star, Odsonne Edouard, before quickly making the loan permanent after netting nine times in twelve starts whilst also being nominated for the 2018 Golden Boy award, the only nominee from the Scottish leagues. Since his permanent move, Edouard has gone on to net 40 goals in 60 league games, whilst also impressing in Europe too, scoring 11 goals across 23 games.

In consequence, despite being a distinctly contrasting forward in comparison to Ollie Watkins or Jonathan David, the former PSG man will almost certainly be on the shortlist if the club decides to look for a striker this summer.

In terms of what Edouard could bring to the Toffees, the French specimen is in many ways, everything you’d need or want from your striker in the modern-day. Physically, the forward would almost certainly translate easily over to the Premier League, often appearing to be a flat-track bully in the Scottish Premiership due to his size, speed and strength, his physical attributes coupled up with his technical efficiencies through his power and finesse on his shots, or through his link-up play or his stand-out progressive dribbles that allows him to power through opposition defences – he has the lot.

The skill-set he offers made him the perfect replacement for Moussa Dembele at Celtic, someone who at times under Brendan Rodgers could single-handedly carry them through games or difficult periods, and in the same way, Edouard provides the exact same potency. The comparison to Dembele is an easy one to make, but the success that Dembele has had outside of Scotland since his move to Lyon in 2018 offers hope that Edouard could have the same impact wherever he goes next. Comparing both players’ spells in Scotland could be a good measure to predict or forecast how well Edouard could do if he moved to Everton, especially with many Scotland fans viewing Edouard as the superior player.

Across two full seasons at Celtic, Dembele netted 26 times in 55 league games compared to Edouard’s 37 goals in 59. Straight away, suggestions that Edouard may the better player, might actually be truthful rather than just views being impacted by a hint of recency bias. In terms of their per 90 basic numbers, again it’s the current Celtic striker that comes out on top, with Edouard’s two seasons seeing him score at a rate of 0.67 and 0.91 with Dembele at a rate of 0.76 and 0.54. Both are great goalscorers, that’s obvious, and Everton, who arguably should have gone in for Dembele to replace Romelu Lukaku in 2017, should take a lot of positives from how well Dembele did in Scotland compared to Edouard and how he’s now gone to perform at a similar level over in France.

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So far, it’s been positive after positive whilst characterising the 22-year-old, and his underlying metrics complies with the praise – even without actually delving deep into the numbers, look how good his data visual is, top-level in almost every category. Obviously playing in Scotland helps, but considering his age, and his performance in Europe too, these numbers just back-up my original thoughts. Edouard is good, and Everton could do a lot worse than convincing the Frenchman to leave the ease of Scotland, to instead become the poster boy of the Carlo Ancelotti ‘evolution’.

As noted, his numbers are definitely influenced through playing in Scotland, but his percentile rank is sensational, and the fact that his prowess leaks to his all-round game too and isn’t just a striker who’s good in front of goal, is massive. While the other forwards suggested are more suited to a second-striker role, Edouard’s efficiency outside the box is important and his data-visual backs-up what you see when watching the striker, he’s highly influential in almost everything he does. With him likely to be partnering Calvert-Lewin, Edouard would still be comfortable dropping deep and being the centre-forward more involved with the play, often at Celtic, he’s played in a front two, and often you see him dropping deep, drifting over to the left, picking up the ball and carry it into dangerous areas – this alone is a key area that Everton should welcome, quite simply, they don’t have enough players, if any, to get a grip of the ball and carry it from one end to the other.

Both when watching the French forward, and when probing through the numbers, everything points to him having a huge impact on the current Everton side, and in many ways, it’s easy to suggest that Edouard should be one of Everton’s main priorities this summer (if they go for a striker over a right-midfielder, mind). In terms of his playing style and character, and obviously the goals he brings to teams, the former PSG academy player could become a sensation for the Toffees, and undoubtedly a fan-favourite. His recent performances in an attacking pairing up-top, as well as his comfortability outside the penalty area, at just 22 too, so with plenty of room to continue improving and progressing, Edouard could be a clever purchase. A paring of Calvert-Lewin and Edouard would definitely get you goals, add that to Richarlison chipping in from out-wide and Everton would easily have the best offensive set-up for a long, long time.

Potential Wildcards –

If the club could pick and choose who or at least what they wanted this summer, then Brands and Ancelotti will almost definitely be looking to add a right-midfielder, meaning they wouldn’t have to break up the current partnership of Richy & Dom, but there’s still every chance that the club could find themselves moving Richarlison back out-wide and instead look to add goals or at least competition at the top end of the pitch. In Ollie Watkins, Jonathan David and Odsonne Edouard, Everton clearly have strong, affordable options to improve such an important area, if anything, it might be easier (and cheaper) to add another striker this season instead of a right-midfielder that will give the side the added goals it needs.

One name I’ve already pinpointed at the beginning of the piece, is RB Salzburg’s Hwang Hee-Chan, with the South Korean seriously impressing in Austria and in the Champions League under Jesse Marsch this season, but despite Hwang’s departure to ‘sister-club’ Leipzig instead, Everton could still find themselves shopping in Salzburg this summer.

I have no idea if Everton have ever had a Zambian in their squad before, but in Salzburg’s diamond Patson Daka, I see no reason as to why they shouldn’t. The 21-year-old, who ended the Austrian Bundesliga, now out of the shadow of Erling Braut Håland, with 24 league goals from just 21 starts, eventually became a key part of Jesse Marsch’s side as they made it seven league titles in a row. Daka, who has only recently started to become a more well-known name across Europe, is a player who typifies the Salzburg recruitment model, especially with their recent focus on the best of Africa’s top youngsters with Daka getting his move to Europe in the same way Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and Enock Mwepu have done.

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Daka’s data-visual above, is just, well, wow. It’s good. Of course, his numbers are largely inflated due to the utter dominance from Salzburg in Austria, they are, and have been for years, a constant, big chance creating, all-out attacking, supremely dominant machine, and whilst Daka greatly benefits from this, he’s also been a massive part of its efficiency this season too. Whether it be through his awareness and intelligence through his movements, his pace and sheer energy that causes defences so many problems, or simply just his determination and graft to win every 50/50, he epitomises the Red Bull hyper-pressing way.

The Zambian’s goalscoring prowess this season is just the tip as to why he’s so highly-rated, his underlying metrics represent the extra layers to his game, and indicate that he could continue to be a force if given the opportunity to prove himself outside of Europe, and Everton could be the best next step. In fact, the move could potentially be right for both parties. His menace-esque characteristics would be a fitting replacement for Richarlison, hard-work from the front should be seen as a necessity, and Daka’s experience of playing under both Marco Rose and now Marsch means he’ll effortlessly fit into Richy’s spot. Whilst he’s an excellent poacher as well as a threat both in-behind and a key part off-the-ball too, he’s also an influential figure creatively too, making him nicely versatile, both positionally and in terms of playing different roles as a striker too.

If I was Daka, or representing the Zambian striker, I’d be wanting to stay for an extra season with Salzburg, take the chance to be the main man and have another go at experiencing Champions League nights in a model and under a manager which is central to developing individuals – but selfishly, he’d also look really nice in the royal blue shirt. There aren’t many certainties in football, especially when you’re signing players from the Austrian Bundesliga, but I’d put a lot of money on Patson Daka becoming a high-level striker in the next few years.

Throughout this transfer series, I’ve mentioned various players for specific positions in spite of it being their natural position or not, Ollie Watkins and Jonathan David are just two examples, and with Everton possibly looking for a second-striker-esque player to partner either Calvert-Lewin or Kean, it could be sensible to look more so for an attacking-midfielder who can play up top. Enter; Milot Rashica.

With Werder Bremen faltering this season in the Bundesliga, only narrowly escaping relegation through a play-off game last month, the Kosovan attacker will be looking to escape this summer, with RB Leipzig supposedly very keen (if you’ve seen me tweet before, you’ll know that if Leipzig are interested in a player, it usually tells you that the player is quite good).

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Rashica, admittingly, has had a below-par season, especially since Christmas with his form falling off as Bremen tumbled towards relegation, but despite his side’s poor performances and not reaching the levels he has done before, Rashica’s underlying metrics are still promising considering he’s playing in a side that are mainly deprived offensively. The forward, who is primarily a winger but has shown this season he can play in a front-two as well, would again be suited to the second-striker role in Ancelotti’s 4-4-2, perfectly complementing Calvert-Lewin. Rashica is a clever, technical player, the type of player Everton have missed for years, possibly since Steven Pienaar – but the Bremen attacker offers more than just the ability to skip past other players or exploiting spaces in-behind like Pienaar used to.

Milot-Rashica

The above graphic portrays how strong Rashica performed during the 2018/19 season, in a tactical system that wasn’t totally flawed and when his confidence wasn’t completely ruined. Across attacking midfielders in 18/19, Rashica was in the top 90 in the top 5 leagues for non-penalty goals, NPxG90 (0.35) as well as open-play shot-creating actions too (3.83) – he was an all-round attacking machine, at times dragging Bremen through games, and did similar with Kosovo in his international games too.

Milot would be a promising addition for the Toffees, I have worries about how quickly it would take for him to adapt over to the pace of Premier League football, he’d definitely need to bulk up and playing him in a front-two rather than out-wide (especially in a 4-4-2) would allow him to be more effective, he can sometimes drift through games, having him up-front rather than in a deeper position prevents that from being a massive problem.

Similar to Daka, the likelihood of Rashica coming in is low, wherever he goes next, he’ll likely be seen as an option out-wide, but I don’t see him suiting that position especially in Ancelotti’s system. But the current Bremen star could still be an intriguing option for the club, he’d definitely be another source of goals which is ultimately what the club are looking for, and he’d simultaneously be another player who could split through opposition defences. Whether I’d prefer him over the likes of Watkins or Edouard for instance, is another thing, but Rashica would still personify a high-risk, high-rewarding gamble if the club took the chance.

Conclusion –

The main thing to get out of this piece, in my opinion, is that Everton have options, an abundance of affordable options, more so than for that right-midfield position. All would add goals, creativity, and that extra spark at the top end of the pitch. As noted, a right-midfielder is likely the priority for the club’s hierarchy, but there’s every possibility Everton turn to a striker and instead move Richarlison back out-wide. While I’m concluding this piece, the club has already been linked to a move for Josh King from relegated Bournemouth, whilst not all reports can be believed, a potential move for the forward indicates that a striker could definitely be on the club’s radar this summer.

All five options mentioned in this piece would be great additions for the Toffees, picking which one would be the best fit, and who would have the biggest impact, is arguably the hardest part. I’d love to see Ollie Watkins at the club, his pathway up to the top flight would be admirable, his playing style perfectly suited to the demands of Evertonians. Jonathan David is quite similar, known for his ingenuity and explosiveness with the ball, people often overlook the work he does off-it too. He’d potentially be the most expensive option, and whether Everton are keen or able to spend big money on a single player this summer remains to be seen, but if they were, there are worst players to spend big money on. Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard kicked-off the new Scottish season with a hat-trick on Sunday, sparking a (well-deserved) love in for ‘French Eddy’ on social media. Ask most Evertonians, off the top of their head if they had to bring in a striker this summer, who would it be? Edouard would be the most common answer. People will be wary of buying from Scotland, understandably, but the former PSG striker would represent a massive coup.

Any of the above three would be my preferred options, but the wildcards, Patson Daka and Milot Rashica would also be happily welcomed. The pair are both on the unlikely side if Everton did look for a striker this summer, Daka would, unfortunately, take a fair bit of money to get out of Salzburg this summer, Rashica would be nice but there are still question marks on whether he’d offer exactly what we need, and seems to be destined to join RB Leipzig this summer too.

If I was put on the spot though, in the shoes of Brands & Ancelotti, and had to pick one to join the Blues this summer, then Ollie Watkins just edges it. In short, I’d love any of the five at the club, but in terms of character, playing style, effectiveness both short-term and long-term, Watkins ticks every single box. We’re yet to buy from the Championship since Marcel Brands arrived, if David Moyes was still in charge I’d see Watkins joining Everton as a sure thing this summer – he’s the epitome of what Moyes used to look for, and despite the negative connotations that people might attach to that, large parts of Everton’s identity under Moyes has worn away. When Leighton Baines departed, the below picture started to pop up quite a bit, many Evertonians signalling how they need to go back to making similar types of transfers such as Baines, Jagielka and Pienaar – players with something to prove, players who see it as an honour to be at the football club. 20200803_115347

Watkins would signify a step in the right direction.

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