There's still nearly three months to go before the transfer window opens up in England but I think it's always good to be thinking about possibilities for signings to address the club's needs. While Everton are never going to be Scrooge McDuck swimming around in a sea of gold inside a giant vault tower, it's clear that the new television deal has allowed the club to loosen the purse strings a bit.
Since Roberto Martinez was trying to get a deal or two done at the close of the summer window, we can assume there are funds available for him to make some moves in January. While it's a bit early to start connecting names with teams -- though that won't stop the tabloids -- we can at least look at the roster from a positional perspective and identify where the club could bolster the ranks.
Romelu Lukaku was our big money transfer over the summer and while his performance has disappointed some less patient types, there's little reason to be concerned in my eyes. Strikers are streaky, they go hot and cold. The quality of service and support play around them greatly affects their play as well. With some many injuries in the midfield, it's been tough for Lukaku to get the type of support he needs. We still haven't seen this team's true first choice lineup this season, so once Ross Barkley is back, hopefully things will improve.
Samuel Eto'o has been pretty damn good so far and while I'm expecting nothing from Arouna Kone, it appears he's at least ready to return to training and provide another warm body. If there's an affordable striker available that Martinez likes, he could grab him up, but I'm going to rate the need level at the forward position as low.
Everton have plenty of good midfielders, they just can't stay healthy. Assuming Barkley and James McCarthy comeback and quickly find their form, the Toffees should be in good shape. The problem though will be depth, because it seems inevitable that there will be more guys going down over the course of the season. There's also the question of whether or both Steven Naismith can keep playing at such a high level for an extended period of time.
Martinez was chasing Tom Cleverley pretty hard in the summer, but he's off the table now. You can bet that the boss has his eye of another target or two to help bolster the ranks, especially to provide some depth in the attacking midfield. So let us rate the need level for the midfield position as moderate.
I think we all can agree that things are not good in the Everton defense. John Stones is facing a couple months out after an ankle injury, Sylvain Distin is rumored to be AWOL, it's not good. While I'm excited as anyone to see youngsters getting a chance, I'm just not sure we can count on the likes of Tyias Browning and Luke Garbutt just yet. Then again, nobody expected us to be able to count of John Stones last season either, and that worked out pretty damn well.
I think Martinez has faith in the kids, but he also realizes that in a physical league like the EPL, you need guys who are familiar with playing at the highest level. There's no need to break the bank on someone here, but this is without question the single most important need position for the club this winter. With that in mind, I'll rate the need level for the defensive position as high.
Tim Howard is not playing as well as he did last season, but he's still solid. He'll make the big saves, he'll have games where he puts on his Tim Cahill underoos and steals points, but he's also going to make you pull your hair out with positional errors and other mistakes. That's the nature of the beast with Howard. There's no reason to replace him, he just signed a new contract, but if the right situation came along. If a certain goalkeeper became available and wanted to join Everton on a reasonable rate -- coughPetrCechcough - might you consider jumping at the opportunity? I'm rating the need level for goalkeeper at very low, because adding anyone would likely be a luxury move.