This is part two of our writers roundtable about the January transfer window. For part 1, click here.
1. What is more important, bringing in new blood or securing the services of someone like Lukaku?
Sean: That's a tough question, we could probably sign two or three quality players for what it would cost to bring Lukaku in permanently, but he's clearly going to be immense in the future. I've already said that it would be a serious statement of intent from Everton to spend their cash on Lukaku, or someone else, and demonstrate to the league that we mean serious business. However, it has been the Everton way to develop players across the Moyes era, and recent statements from Martinez demonstrate that he thinks development of talent over a long period is better than spending cash in the manner of Manchester City. This question will be more prudent in the summer, if we qualify for the Champions League then that is the time to show our intent with a marquee signing like Lukaku.
Tom: Signing Lukaku on a permanent deal would be a huge statement of intent by the club. The guy is class and at 20-years-old will only get better. Having a goalscorer in your side can cover up a number of deficiencies elsewhere - look at Robin van Persie for United last season. If the opportunity is there to sign him on a permanent deal, they club has to do everything it can to do it.
Adam: It all depends on the price of Lukaku and what other strikers are on the market. As I've said, a striker needs to be brought in to back up Lukaku for the rest of this season, regardless of what they do with the big Belgian. Now that McGeady is in though, their biggest need is up front. If the option is secure Lukaku or bring in reinforcements at other positions, Lukaku ought to be secured immediately.
Darren: No brainer. Lukaku has instructed the club to do everything they can to keep him. He's said he belongs here. His brother backed this up to me personally at Arsenal.
Sibi: Definitely bringing in new blood. I know securing Lukaku would be insane and wonderful and I would probably cry. But to be honest I think it's a pipe dream and a bit of a waste of time. Instead we should put our efforts in scouting new young talents that can become gems for years to come (ala Seamus Coleman). Great clubs with small budgets can only compete doing this. Let's not delude ourselves and think we can outspend the big ]4 (or 5 or 6...whatever).
Max: Honestly, for now we need more players. If we just signed Lukaku permanently now I don't think we have enough bodies to continue in the same vein as we have in the first half of the season. At the same time, long term a player like Lukaku can be world class, but if we qualify for the Champions League we'll be in a stronger positions to buy him.
Brian: At this point I want to see more bodies. The money spent on Lukaku could easily bring in a striker, central midfielder, and central defender. With the Fellaini and Jelavic money still available, Martinez could still bring in another decent striker beyond the three additions above. Everton's problem the past few years isn't the starters, but rather depth.
2.Once again the rumors are swirling around Leighton Baines. Is it time for Everton to finally cash in?
Sean: Before he got injured, I'd have said keep him to show we're not a selling club. Then Oviedo stepped in and has proven that he might just have enough about him to replace Baines, and is seven years younger to boot. Martinez has also been showing a lot of interest in the young left back in Scotland, so that might be worth noting. As a result, I'm unsure what the club should do. Baines's talent is undeniable, and that extra factor he brings in from set pieces and crossing does make a difference, but if someone were to come in and offer £20million (realistically £15+million) then Everton would have to consider it giving his age and the option of Ovideo. Of course, I've always said that I don't think Baines wants to leave and doesn't seem the type of player to push for a move, so whether he wants to go could also factor into any decision.
Tom: If Everton want to be taken seriously as contenders for silverware, then they need to stop selling their best players. If we were to sell Baines then the time was last summer when his value was probably at its highest as at 29, his transfer fee will only go one way. He remains a vital part of the side though and staving off the likes of Man Utd would send out a message that we mean business once more.
Adam: Simply put, no. I know Oviedo has played remarkably well this season, but there just isn't a player who can bring what Leighton Baines brings to this team. Defensively, he is impeccable. His work in the defensive third of the pitch is underrated and doesn't receive enough credit. His ability going forward is well documented; he is an excellent crosser of the ball (something Oviedo needs to work on), he is a set piece wizard, and a dependable passer. With Oviedo pushing him, as well as providing him with some much needed rest from time to time, Baines ought to have some spectacular football ahead of him.
Darren: Given Bryan Oviedo's form and age, selling him wouldn't bother me as much as it may have two years ago. However, to move to United in my opinion would be a step down. We're playing the best football I've seen us play for years and we're going places. He'd be foolish to leave. And I don't think he will.
Sibi: £17 million and I really don't think people are seriously going to bid that kind of cash. Let's just stop wasting our time and build a Champions League squad WITH him.
Max: Whilst Bryan Oviedo has been excellent this season, Leighton Baines is still the best fullback in the Premier League and one of the best leftbacks in the world.
Brian: If the offer is there we have to sell. Oviedo has done enough to assure me Baines wouldn't be extremely missed, and in the next year or two it is going to be time to look for a Baines replacement anyways. We may as well cash in now rather than later.
3. Who are two players who should leave the club this month?
Sean:I think it's fairly obvious that Johnny Heitinga should leave, he'll want game time before the World Cup in the summer, and quite frankly he's been disappointing. We've had one good season from him and that's it, and his wages are reportedly in the 60k a week region, which is extortionate considering he's now fifth choice behind Jagielka, Distin, Alcaraz and Stones.
Although I'm tempted to say Jelavic, I like the Croatian and I can see his confidence coming back. Under Moyes he was being asked to play the channels too often, which is not his game, but when he stays in the box his finishing ability is lethal. Therefore, I'm going to go with one of a trio of Magaye Gueye, Steven Naismith and Apostolos Velios. The two youngsters have been disappointing to say the least, especially Velios, who's recent refusal to go out on loan has been criticised by Martinez and shows a serious lack of desire. On the topic of Naismith, I like him, but I don't see where he fits in to this squad and I'm not sure he has the quality, if I'm brutally honest. However, I can see the benefits of having a hard working player like him around, so I'd be surprised if he left.
Tom: Nikica Jelavic remains one of my favourite players but I feel it may be for the best of both parties if he moved on. For whatever reason his confidence has been shot and it looks increasingly like a fresh start is the only way to get it back. I really hope I'm wrong, as he potentially is a wonderful asset to have, but should a replacement be found, then a departure is almost inevitable.
There is no doubt though that Johnny Heitinga should leave. The Dutchman has always been an awkward fit at Goodison but the emergence of John Stones and return to fitness of Antolin Alcaraz means there is no risk in letting him leave. Indeed the cash saved on his sky-high wages could be put to better use elsewhere. Sadly those same sky high wages may persuade him to sit on his contract before leaving on a free in the summer.
Adam: Heitinga obviously needs to go. His wages weigh down the budget, and Martinez only just gave him his first bit of league action. I think he can still provide something for this club, but with the depth at center-back right now, his wages outweigh what he can bring to the team. If another striker can be brought in, I would love to see Vellios go out on loan, provided he is willing. He has loads of potential, and could be an important contributor to the Toffees in the future, but just isn't going to move forward while sitting on the bench.
Darren: Jelavic. Time is done here, gone stale, confidence low and will still command a decent fee.
Heitinga. As above, plus on a massive wage!!
Sibi: Jelavic (which he has) for obvious reasons, and probably Vellios on loan (HE SHOULD NEVER LEAVE THE CLUB, HE IS A GREEK GOD). Vellios desperately needs the experience and I really don't understand why he won't. He could be great...
Max: There's only two. Jelavic is on his way already. Good. His time had come, he might as well have not been on the pitch in the Premier League this year. The other is Heitinga, who really is just a drain on funds. £60,000 a week. For doing nothing. Twenty minutes of Premier League football. See ya Johnny.
Brian: With Jelavic gone, I think Heitinga and Gueye need to depart. Heitinga had some good moments, but it is clear he is a liability. Even Moyes didn't stick with him through thick and thin. As for Gueye, he never quite caught on, and anything Everton might get for him would be fantastic.