With Roberto Martinez fired by Everton on Thursday, the rumor mill is already running into overdrive regarding his replacement.
Bookmakers have made Dutch duo Frank de Boer and Ronald Koeman the front-runners and many reports have claimed that Everton want Koeman to switch the South Coast for Merseyside.
I’m hearing that Koeman is Everton’s first choice and they are desperate to get him in at Goodison Park.
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Over the past two seasons at Southampton, Koeman, 53, has done a marvelous job in building a squad which finished seventh last season with a record PL points tally for Saints and he’s equaled that this season with one game to go and has secured a guaranteed top eight finish.
Koeman has just one-year left on his current deal with Southampton and in recent weeks his future has been a constant point of speculation with the Dutch manager set to sit down with the directors at Saints next week to discus a new contract.
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With that in mind and Everton’s reported interest, why would Koeman leave Southampton and join Everton?
Several of the reports claim that Everton’s new majority shareholder, British-Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri, will hand Koeman a sizable transfer budget this summer to reshape an Everton squad which has badly underachieved.
Coupled with potential departures for Romelu Lukaku, John Stones and Ross Barkley, there will be plenty of cash to spend but it will still be a huge task for Koeman to take Everton back into the top six and beyond. The scars Martinez has left behind will take some time to heal, especially when it comes to Everton’s defense. The Toffees will also offer Koeman a lucrative contract but Southampton aren’t exactly poor, so unless Everton offer him a blank check book, this potential move won’t be about money for Koeman. But it certainly helps.
Potential of young players
If Everton does decide to keep hold of Lukaku, Barkley and Stones then Koeman would have a promising spine of a team to work with. He has shown during his time at Southampton that he can nurture and develop young talent and with his background in Holland he is always willing to given youngsters a chance to shine. The fact that the aforementioned trio now have considerable experience under their belts will help and the spine of a very good team is there if the new manager, whoever he is, can help them regain confidence and help them fulfill their potential.
Lack of Saints ambition?
This is the main factor. You get the sense that Koeman is very, very happy at Southampton. He is taking a young squad to heights the club has never seen before and is pushing for a second-straight season of Europa League qualification.
However, has he taken Saints as far as they can go? In this season, of all seasons, Koeman’s men could have finished a little higher as with one game to go they sit just five points off the top four. Yet, next season with the perennial giants strengthening you get the sense that Southampton will be up against it to finish in the top six or challenge for the top four.
That said, Southampton have shown their intent to keep the current crop of players together and Koeman has held talks over a new five-year plan for the club. Fraser Forster, Virgil Van Dijk and James Ward-Prowse have all signed lengthy contract extensions in the past few days and it seems like Saints are trying to impress Koeman as they continue to lock down as many first team regulars to new deals as they can.
Koeman will assess his options over the coming weeks but his hand has certainly been strengthened in negotiations over a new contract with Southampton. Koeman is a wanted man amid this reported Everton interest and he’s also been linked with the Arsenal job, if it ever becomes available.
Right now, it seems like Everton would be a sideways step for Koeman. Yes, the Toffees are historically a bigger club and have a larger fanbase than Saints but alongside his brother Erwin and highly respected coaches Sammy Lee and Dave Watson, Koeman has built something special at St Mary’s. He’d have to do it all over against at Everton. If he stayed at Saints only for next season, or signed a new three-year deal, it’s highly likely his stock would continue to rise and the bigger clubs in the Premier League or some of the European giants would come calling.
The only jobs Koeman should be eyeing up are those of the PL giants, the Dutch national team and his beloved former club Barcelona. If none of those positions are offered to him this summer then it would be a mistake to take on a monumental rebuilding project at Everton when he could stay at Saints and reap benefits of all the hard work he’s put in over the last two years.