It is fair to say that Everton fans headed into the January transfer window with big expectations. In the months leading up to the winter window opening, there had been numerous rumours that the Blues were set for a major revamp.
Director of Football Steve Walsh and manager Ronald Koeman had identified their targets, moves would be made and the changes would be significant. But as it turned out, the significant changes were in the departures from Goodison Park rather than arrivals.
Eleven players ended up leaving the club either permanently or on loan, five of those were first team players.
Conversely, Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman both signed up while youngster Anton Donkor was brought in for the Under 23’s
For some that was disappointing but largely the response from Toffees fans has been a positive one. So what did the writers here at Royal Blue Mersey think of the Blues business? Read on to find out.
The moves in this window seem to have been working toward a pretty clear goal, let's make sure Everton is good enough to finish seventh this season, then set ourselves up for a big summer window.
Adding Schneiderlin gives the team more than enough options in the centre of midfield, especially if RK decides to use Barkley as an attacker in a 4-3-3 as we saw in the second half against Stoke. Stoke. Lookman is definitely still a raw talent, but you can see that all the potential is there.
None of the players who departed will significantly impact Everton's chase to be "the best of the rest" in the Premier League, so to speak. With the two additions, the Toffees have all the pieces they need to finish seventh, which was always going to be the team's highest realistic goal.
With unused players and their wasted wages out, Everton has both freed up extra money to make moves in the summer and eased the restrictions of Financial Fair Play on the club's ability to add players next season. So, Koeman and Walsh both put Everton in a position to achieve its best possible outcome this season and set things up for a productive summer -- two total victories.
You don't make a lot of big moves in January. Even the big transfers that happen tend to not work out initially. Everton fans that were expecting wholesale changes are frankly naive.
January is where you can pick up some bit pieces that will help solidify a season or provide that needed piece to move up a few spots in the table. Everton seems to have done that this year. They found a mix of youth and cast offs that seem to be a January staple and a challenge for 6th should be a realistic possibility.
The defence is still going to be a concern, especially at CB, but that is something that should get addressed in the summer. Instead, Koeman has been able to set the squad with the players he wants and can make real improvements in the offseason to raise the talent level rather than just tweaking it a bit.
We've already seen enough of Schneiderlin and Lookman to be positive about, so instead I'm going to focus on how we've made the squad more lean by clearing out the extraneous players. It was slightly disappointing we weren't able to offload Arouna Kone as well, but that's okay since his contract expires at the end of the season anyway.
With all those players cleared off the wage bill, though, Everton can now mount a serious attack on the summer transfer window. To build a squad that can handle the challenges of Europe without sinking into oblivion domestically, we are going to theoretically need a quality, Premier League level player at every position on the pitch. Currently, I would say we're about six-eight players short of that.
I am happy to see that we made a concerted effort to get a bunch of youngsters out on loan - if they show real potential then they could possibly step into those vacancies. Same goes for senior players that we shipped out on loan as well, if they show that they can handle first team football wherever they are, maybe they can come back.
The rest of the spots Koeman will aim to fill via the transfer market. Should we qualify for Europe, that will be a much easier task. If we don't though, all is not lost. The Premier League is flush with cash and there are players who are looking for a payday. Trust in Steve Walsh to identify the right targets for Koeman's ideology, and let Farhad Moshiri do the rest.
Overall, a decent window. Could have been better, and could have been worse.
The January window is always a very complicated time to sign players with clubs often panic buying players they don't necessarily want to fill gaps at over inflated prices. I was very happy that we didn't do that.
We had our targets and at this time some weren't available. The addition of Morgan Schneiderlin looks a very shrewd one and Ademola Lookman is exciting. They both commanded considerable fees given their age and experience, but I am more concerned with the player and not his fee. I also believe the integration of Tom Davies and Mason Holgate into the first time and the pleasant surprise that is Lookman took the pressure off Koeman in pursuing targets.
As far as outgoings are concerned, shipping out 11 mere squad players is excellent business, especially when you consider the fees received for the likes of Darron Gibson, Bryan Oviedo and the potential fees for Oumar Niasse and Tom Cleverley.
The one player I'm a little disappointed in leaving is Gerard Deulofeu. I still have this faint hope that he will be a really good, effective player for us and wish for him to come back from Milan a fitter, more ready player than the one that left us a few weeks ago.
Overall January has been a good window. Plenty of players who had little or no contribution to the first team have gone, two have come in and gone straight into the first team and Koeman has put faith in the excellent younger players we have. The club is in a much healthier, more positive position on and off the field. This only bodes well for the summer and beyond.
Regardless of the team's sudden influx of cash, I think this was always going to be the likely outcome of the transfer window.
Other teams are typically going to be reluctant to part with players midway through a season, so it was probably a little unrealistic that there was going to be a major overhaul of the roster in January.
We added some nice pieces that can help now and some youth that can help in the future. I think overall Koeman and Walsh did a solid job.
Morgan Schneiderlin does not fill Everton's biggest need but he is a very, very good player and I will always welcome those. I don't think there's much we can conclude about Lookman at this point.
I'm pleased they've sold Gibson and am indifferent to Oviedo. Loaning Cleverley and Niasse was for the best; I'm actually quite curious to see Niasse play for Hull.
I'm on the fence regarding the Deulofeu situation. When he plays for Everton he usually puts up numbers that suggest he is one of the team's best attackers. Yet he can't seem to get along with any manager for more than a few weeks at a time and his playing time suffers as a result. The analytics guy in me thinks he should be a big part of this team but the other part of me is slowly realising that there may, unfortunately, be more to him than his production. We shall see.
I think it was always going to be difficult for Everton to get much business done in January. Everyone knows we have extra money available and will have looked to exploit that.
As it is, the business we did do was very positive. In Schneiderlin Everton have a proven Premier League player who is already an upgrade on the current options at, what I feel is a competitive price. Lookman, meanwhile, is not only a very exciting talent for the future but looks ready to make an impact this season.
Getting rid of players appeared to have been objective number one and in that regard, Everton have done a very good job indeed. They have cleared out the deadwood who didn’t have futures and could end up making good money on some as well. Not bad at all. A leaner, more competitive squad will not go amiss.
It’s always disappointing when your club doesn’t make a big money signing but Everton’s shrewd approach in regards to incomings and the clear the decks approach to departures was a very wise one.
This felt like the perfect approach to a January window for the position that Everton are in and the things they want to achieve. Koeman and Walsh have a plan, and this month they put it into motion.
Clearing out fringe players looks like it was the top objective. They managed to unload everyone but Kone and he is out of contract in the summer anyway. That's smart. It now leaves Koeman with the bones of the 2017-18 squad. He can use the final few months to evaluate the talent he has and finalise his targets for the summer.
The best thing about this month was the patience and restrain the club showed. They didn't spend money for no reason. Schneiderlin was expensive, but he is as close to a "sure thing" as you are going to find and should remain a solid player for a few years.
The fact that not a lot of players were brought in means the young guns get an extended run in the first team. It will be exciting to see what Lookman, Davies, Holgate and Calvert-Lewin (when healthy) can do in the Premier League down the stretch.