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.
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.