Everton have announced that Tom Cleverley will be joining the club on a free transfer on July 1st, having agreed a five-year contract to come to Goodison Park. This comes after being linked to the 25-year-old from as soon as Roberto Martinez became manager, with the Catalan knowing the player from his time at Wigan.
However, there are a few issues with this signing. First of all there is that horrible word that seems to be mentioned more often as Martinez struggles. Wigan. The manager doesn't have a great history of bringing in players from his time with the Latics, with the exception of James McCarthy and perhaps Joel Robles. The latter is very debatable though, with most of the goalkeeper's success coming in just three games in January. Should we really be picking up players who weren't able to lift the Pie Eaters out of a relegation battle?
There is also the fact that central midfield isn't exactly the position that we need strengthening in. We already have McCarthy, Gareth Barry, Darron Gibson, Muhamed Besic, Leon Osman, Ross Barkley, and potentially Ryan Ledson who can play in the role. Surely the Toffees should have been looking at centre-backs or wingers as a priority before strengthening the middle of the park.
There have been some murmurings that the former Manchester United man will be used in attacking midfield or out wide, in a similar manner to Osman and Steven Pienaar. However, for one this would be a risky move with it being four years since he has played there, and secondly he wasn't as successful in the position as some would make out.
During that campaign Cleverley managed three goals and created 26 chances for his teammates in 1634 minutes of play. To put this in perspective an ageing Pienaar in 2013/14 managed double the goals and created 82 chances in just 3066 minutes, less than double the time his rival had. With our new signing already 25 he is unlikely to improve much more, especially considering he hasn't been playing in the role. So at best we would have an equal to the South African from two years ago, when he was already seen as being past his best. is that really what is needed to challenge for a place in the top four?
What's more since that season with Martinez the midfielder seems to have stalled in his development, and even regressed in some areas. He hasn't managed a single assist since the 2012/13 season, and except for a run of three goals in three games last time round, including one against us, he didn't stand out in what was a very poor Aston Villa side. At times fans of the Villans even wanted the loanee to be dropped.
Lastly, a five-year deal is a very big risk on what is essentially a punt from Martinez on a player he once knew. Should this go wrong we could be stuck with a highly paid player on the books for a very long time. What's more his lucrative contract has already angered McCarthy, which we should be doing everything to avoid when he is so important to the team. The Daily Mirror has already reported that the Irishman is seeking talks over a new deal because of what the incoming player is earning, and if this were to add towards a situation where he leaves it could be one of the worst decisions of Martinez's tenure to bring in Cleverley.