With all of the speculation surrounding Everton and who the club is targeting in the transfer market, we take a look at where Everton should really be focusing their energy to strengthen the squad. While it would be a shock to see all of these needs filled, Roberto Martinez can't go wrong if he shores up these positions. The key with most of these positions is that they are backups. To challenge for Europe a club needs depth, and we are sorely lacking there. Our starting XI can take on and beat any club in the EPL, but as soon as we have to put backups in things start getting a little shaky.
While it isn't a sexy pick, the clubs biggest need may be the backup goalkeeper position. Even after the arrival of Jan Mucha, the feeling at Goodison has been that Tim Howard hasn't had anyone to push him for his spot as the number one keeper. The calls during the past season to replace him are premature, there is no doubt that he needs to be pushed. With Howard also entering his mid 30's, Martinez would do well to bring in a promising youngster that can learn from Howard as well as push him for playing time. This would help soften Howard's eventual departure in the coming years.
Staying in the backup department, the Toffees could really use a backup center back. The incompetence of Heitinga is known at this point, and bringing in a solid squad player would help prevent the defensive lapses that plagued Everton this year. With Shane Duffy hopefully getting to the point where he can get more playing time, Everton would have 4 center backs to pick from, and if an injury requires a new starter at right back, Phil Jagielka can slot out wide and one of the backups can start in center defense.
Making a return to this list for the umpteenth consecutive season, we need another striker. While Jelavic should improve his production from this past season, Everton still only has 2 real strikers in Jelavic and Anichebe. For a club that is looking to challenge for the Champions League, this simply won't do. The one sad truth about this is that we won't see a 20 goal a year striker walk through the door. Those guys cost upwards of 20 million quid, and we just don't have that kind of cash between the couch cushions. Instead expect signings similar to Jelavic, guys from smaller leagues who have had success and won't break the bank. Maybe Martinez will have more success at this than David Moyes did. Martinez did bring in Arouna Kone today, but I wouldn't be surprised to see another forward arrive.
The final position Everton will need to address is the central midfield. Currently Darron Gibson, Marouane Fellaini, Leon Osman, and Ross Barkley are the top 4 central midfielders, and if Martinez plays a 5 man midfield then 3 of them will have to start. As we saw last year injuries to this group cause some ugly things to happen such as Phil Neville in the middle of the pitch. Even if Martinez is willing to play Barkley more than Moyes was, there is still the need for another back up, or even a second one if funds are available. Filling out the depth will make life a lot easier during those mid week matches at Stoke.
Of course all of these moves are mentioned without looking at what the departures of Fellaini and Baines would mean. Obviously if Baines is sold then Martinez will have to go out and buy a left back, the squad is a little thin at that department. If Fellaini leaves things will be interesting. While Moyes would have been likely to replace him with a similar target man who is great in the air, Martinez may want to go for a midfielder who can create a little more. Fellaini's replacement would be the first clue Everton fans could get about what Martinez's intentions are for the squads playing style.