Everton FC

Why are Everton spending big, and early, this summer?

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Everton’s transfer business has taken the Premier League by storm this summer with Ronald Koeman splashing the cash faster than a Dutchman at a clog sale.

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Seriously though, what the Toffees have done thus far in the transfer window is incredibly impressive with owner Farhad Moshiri sticking to his promise of investing heavily in the playing squad as five new faces have arrived for a combined total of over $110 million, with Everton spending more money than any other PL club this summer.

But why are they in such a rush?

The main two reasons are the following: a) they have a Europa League qualifying campaign which begins in just over three weeks. b) to try and entice Romelu Lukaku to stay at Goodison Park.

Many have suggested the latter reason is a lost cause with Lukaku linked with a $127 million return to Chelsea, while Manchester United and others also remain interested. Yet what if Koeman has said to Lukaku, Everton’s leading goalscorer in each of the past four campaigns who scored 25 times in the PL last season, ‘if I get in more quality players around you, just give me one more year.’

Lukaku has a contract at Everton until July 2019 and although the Belgian striker has failed to commit to a new deal, this is not like an Alexis Sanchez situation where the Toffees have to cash in now or risk losing him for nothing next summer. They hold plenty of the power and the word out of Goodison is they don’t want to sell Lukaku right now.

Of course, Everton’s success is about more than one player and although Lukaku is the focal point of their attack they have now built a new core of the team since Koeman arrived last summer.

This is the potential starting lineup for the Toffees in the 2017-18 campaign as they aim to try and break into the top four.

—– Pickford —-

— Coleman — Williams — Keane — Baines —

— Davies — Schneiderlin — Gueye —

— Klaassen — Sandro

—– Lukaku —–

Of course, Coleman is out with a long-term injury so Mason Holgate will likely slot in at right back, but the rest of the team picks itself. With Jordan Pickford a huge upgrade on Maarten Steklenburg and Joel Robles in goal, Michael Keane a club-record buy to replace the ageing Phil Jagielka at center back, Davy Klaassen in for Ross Barkley in attacking midfield and Sandro Ramirez to support Lukaku in attack. Also, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman, stars of England’s U-20 World Cup success, will be pushing for a starting spot.

This is an extremely strong squad and more additions could arrive this summer for the Toffees with reports suggesting potential moves for Wayne Rooney and Olivier Giroud are not out of the question. How either player would get in this starting lineup, if Lukaku was to stay, is beyond me.

Everton have done the majority of their business early this summer with the Europa League qualifiers in mind, but also with a firm sense that Koeman can easily improve on their seventh-place finish in the PL last season with Director of Football Steve Walsh now in the job for a full year as he continues to make his stamp on the club after putting together a title-winning squad at Leicester City.

The Toffees faded badly in 2016-17 — picking up four points from their last five PL games — but with these additions they’ve already addressed their main needs and now balancing the dreaded Thursday-Sunday schedule remains the main obstacle for them to overcome if they qualify for the Europa League group stage.

Yes, they may have paid higher than expected for Pickford, Keane and Klaassen but that was a risk worth taking for getting players in early. Every other Premier League club and manager would love to have their squad almost settled like Koeman has by the time preseason arrives, but with certain players only allowed to leave once a replacement is found, the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are finding it tough to push moves through.

Everton aren’t just spending money for the sake of it. They’re addressing their needs diligently and are hoping that buying early will have the team settled by the time August 12 rolls around so they can take the next step in the 2017-18 PL campaign.

That’s the main reason Koeman has struck early, and often, in the transfer market. And the Toffees are now way ahead of their rivals as they aim to become a genuine top four contender.

Zouma signs new Chelsea contract, is immediately loaned to Stoke City

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Kurt Zouma‘s long-term future is secure at Chelsea, but his short-term future will be away from Stamford Bridge.

The France international centerback signed a new six-year contract with Chelsea and was promptly sent out on a season-long loan to Stoke City. Zouma made just three starts and nine total appearances last season as he came back from a torn ACL suffered in February 2016.

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“It is fantastic Kurt has chosen to commit his future to Chelsea,” Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo said in a statement. “He has shown his talent since joining us three years ago, and has returned from a serious injury with a fantastic attitude.

“Now he has the opportunity to play regularly in the Premier League and we will be monitoring his progress closely while he is at Stoke.”

The move to Stoke will give Zouma a new experience, playing for a mid-table side in the Premier League, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in at centerback, battling with American Geoff Cameron and Englishman Ryan Shawcross.

Even with John Terry leaving the club, Zouma was likely to be second-choice in the back three for Chelsea and if he wants to make France’s squad for the 2018 World Cup, he’ll have to play regularly.

 

 

 

Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea

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Chelsea FC will have another Spanish international leading the front line, with Diego Costa likely on his way out of town.

The club announced that Alvaro Morata has completed a transfer from Real Madrid, signing a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge. The BBC reports the transfer fee at nearly $78 million.

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“I am so happy to be here,” Morata said in a statement. “It’s an incredible emotion to be part of this big club. I am looking to work hard, score as many goals as I can and to win as many trophies as possible.”

Morata emerged as an option to replace Costa after Romelu Lukaku decided on joining Manchester United over his former club Chelsea. Morata, who was a Manchester United target at first, then turned his sights on London after becoming disillusioned in Madrid, playing second-fiddle to Karim Benzema.

Despite not being first-choice up top, Morata scored 15 goals in 26 La Liga games and another three in the UEFA Champions League, which Real Madrid went on to win over Morata’s former club Juventus. Morata started for Juventus the last time the club had been in the Champions League final.

Despite being just 24, Morata is emerging as one of the world’s top forwards. He has nine goals in 19 games for the Spanish National Team and now is the right time for him to experience the challenge of the Premier League, where the games come thick and fast and the pace of the game is a step up from what he’s experienced in Spain and Italy.

However, the tactical knowledge he’s learned in both places should help him in England, where he can position himself between the opposing centerbacks.

 

Report: Neymar tells Barcelona teammates he’s off to PSG

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Brazilian star Neymar isn’t keeping his future plans under wraps, at least when it comes to his current club teammates.

According to a report in French newspaper Le Parisien, Neymar has started telling his Barcelona teammates that he’s intends to join Paris Saint-Germain. Spanish publication Marca meanwhile is reporting that Neymar’s teammates are trying to persuade him to stay in Catalonia for the season.

The Le Parisien report adds that certain officials at Barcelona believe the transfer is imminent and are resigned to losing one of their stars this summer. The report also said that it was a “decisive step” that Neymar was on board with the deal, going along with his father and agent.

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Rumors intensified over the past few days as reports emerged in Spain that Neymar had agreed on a contract with PSG, and all that was awaiting was PSG exercising Neymar’s release clause, worth nearly $260 million (€222 million). On paper, PSG’s Qatari owners can probably afford that tremendous sum but it still remains to be seen whether PSG will see this move over the line.

Should Neymar move, it would break transfer records for the price of the deal as well as shock the world, as Neymar seemed settled and happy in Barcelona playing alongside the likes of fellow South Americans Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Neymar and Barcelona are currently in New York training ahead of the club’s friendly match in the International Champions Cup against Juventus Saturday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Liverpool complete signing of Hull’s Robertson

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Liverpool has added to its defensive depth with the signing of one of Scotland’s bright young stars.

The club announced the signing of left back Andy Robertson for a reported $10.4 million, which can rise to $13 million with add-on clauses.

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Robertson made 33 appearances for Hull City last season in the Premier League, scoring a goal and assisting on two others. While Robertson is joining Liverpool, midfielder Kevin Stewart is heading the opposite direction, joining the Championship club for a reported $5.2 million.

Robertson will likely compete with Alberto Moreno for the starting left back position, and with Liverpool competing in the Premier League plus three cup competitions, depth at every position will be crucial when injuries and fatigue sets in.