For those of us who live for transfer news, it's been a painfully slow summer. While we witnessed an exciting World Cup (which gave everyone a chance to scout some of the game's best players); the tournament kept most teams from signing new talent for the upcoming season. One nice thing for Evertonians was ESPN bringing in Roberto Martinez as a studio analyst for the Cup. In addition to doing an excellent job for the network and representing the club well to a U.S. audience, he also had the chance to scout potential transfer targets. So far, thanks to his summer job, the Blues now have Muhamed Besic locked up to roam the midfield.
Though Besic should provide a boost wherever the team decides to play him, there are still other glaring holes that need to be addressed. The most documented is the striker position. At the top of everyone's wish list is last year's Chelsea loanee, Romelu Lukaku. You likely know this already as it is the main topic of virtually every Everton story over the past two months. The boss has already addressed the possible transfer, stating that Lukaku is a target but also advising that no deal has been made. He did come out and assure the community that if the deal did not go through; he did have others in mind.
With other clubs such as Juventus and Wolfsburg linked to the 21-year old Belgian, Everton may need to look elsewhere for a striker. Particularly if a bidding war was to ensue. While Everton by no means is a small club, they must maximize the value of their investment as such a signing will affect club payroll for the next several years and dictate how contract extensions and future signings are handled. With that said, let's take a look at some other young, potential value forwards that I believe the Toffees should take a glance at.
Aron Johannsson, 23 - AZ Alkmaar
Johannson, an American who grew up in Iceland and currently playing for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar worked his way onto Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. World Cup team. He got his first taste of World Cup play in the team's first group game against Ghana after Jozy Altidore was injured in the first half. Johansson has demonstrated that he can play with and against the top flight clubs in the Eredivisie scoring 26 goals in 51 appearances last campaign. He joined his club in January 2013, but could possibly be persuaded to move for an opportunity to lead a Premier League team. Currently, transfermrkt.com has his price listed at an affordable £3.1M.
Javier Hernandez, 26 - Manchester United
At first glance Chicharito would not be considered a "value" signing but stick with me. Since moving to the Red Devils from his boyhood club, Guadalajara in 2010, Hernandez has had trouble finding his niche and consistent playing time and recently he's become more vocal about that. It's understandable considering that he's hitting his prime and should be out there cashing in on scoring opportunities. During Mexico's surprising World Cup campaign, he played the role of super sub, coming off the bench and providing a much needed spark in late in El Tri's matches. With the same role being potentially lined up for him at United this season, he could be looking for an exit. His club may be thinking the same thing considering that they have younger, cheaper options also sitting on the bench just waiting for first team minutes. Everton could capitalize on this mutual need for a separation and offer below his expected value of £12.5M.
Alberto Paloschi, 24 - Chievo Verona
I find Paloschi to be an interesting player that has the potential to thrive in an environment where he's aided by an able winger and a midfield that's not too far off to push the ball up. Currently he's plying his trade with Serie A club Chievo Verona. Previously he has had stints with A.C. Milan, Parma and Genoa. Between league and cup matches last season he had 36 appearances in which he netted fifteen goals. It's estimated that Paloschi can be had for £4.75M. At that price and still to reach his peak, he could be considered a good pick up as a backup to a different top man. Though he has been with his club since 2011, they only just bought out the remaining 50% of his share that Milan still owned. This could be a sticking point but if the price is right, they should be able to lure him to Merseyside.
With all this said, my hope is that none of these strikers (or any others) are needed. Last season Lukaku demonstrated that he can be a true number nine in the league and he won over the hearts of many a Blue including this one. This could drag on for a while but we'll just have to keep trusting our manager. I'm fine with that. He hasn't disappointed yet.
Please chime in with your comments. Do you agree, disagree or have any additional thoughts on who can lead the Toffees to the top of the table?