The January window was expected to be quiet for Everton this year and honestly it largely was. No major exits and only one major addition to the squad. The last minute nature of the deal brought a bit of anxiety, but we largely knew a day ahead this player would be here to start February. So how did the team do and what changes can we expect if any to the formation and rotation.
Left wing and Attack Changes
The loss of Steven Naismith left an opening for a similar player who could perhaps add more from the same positions. Someone who can play either a wing willing to come inside and attack the penalty area or a central striker who could use speed and pace to benefit Romelu Lukaku by making runs and playing off of him.
That seems to be what Oumar Niasse brings to the team and more than likely what he will be played as. Either on the left wing in the 4-2-3-1 formation or perhaps the team may experiment with a 3-5-2 that Roberto Martinez implemented at Wigan. It doesn't seem from the reports that Niasse brings much in terms of crossing or passing and will be viewed as a finisher and speed option to stretch out defenses.
Young Options for the Future
Everton made two additions that speak to the long term future of the team. First signing Matty Foulds from Bury to play on the back line of the future. The 17 year old was well thought of and has already made two appearances for the U-21 side. Expect Foulds to be making an impact on the Everton back line in the future, but for now he'll be playing only with that U-21 side.
The other addition was another attacking option in Shani Taraashaj from Grasshopper Zurich. The player was returned to his former club on loan as part of the deal. This was mainly due to a military service which he must complete. He plays similar positions to Niasse at left wing and secondary striker so his future will be interesting at Everton. He's also 4 years younger than Niasse so he has time to improve and compete for a future role either on the wing or as a striker of the future.
Lastly Everton completed a loan to get Aidan McGeady off the books for the remainder of the season to Sheffield Wednesday and also loaned Conor McAleny to Wigan. McGeady was unlikely to sign a deal with any team willing to take him as that would require a pay cut he just wouldn't take. Martinez tried to paint a fair light on this, but it's unlikely he sees playing time on his return next season.
McAleny unfortunately takes a step back from Championship side play after finishing his loan with Charlton Athletic and now joins Football League One side Wigan Athletic. The good news is the Latics are in a promotion battle while Charlton is looking at relegation for next season. Perhaps the chance to play meaningful games with Wigan will be good for him to finish the season.
The biggest switch here is a move out for underused Naismith and inclusion of Niasse to the squad. Martinez has made it pretty clear he does not view Niasse as a part time or bench player, so we'll see if that shows up Saturday or not (the player is ineligible to play on Wednesday). If he's going to play that speaks bad of pitch time for Kevin Mirallas and Arouna Kone. Perhaps even Gerard Deulofeu may see less time to avoid having too many offensively-gifted players on the field at once.