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Klaassen faces immense pressure to succeed at Everton

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Player will be expected to provide creative spark to sometimes blunt attack

Previews - UEFA Europa League Final
Davy Klaassen speaks to the media
Photo by Handout/UEFA via Getty Images

In Ronald Koeman’s first year at Everton, we saw him stabilize the poor defence that Roberto Martinez had left him with, and give the side a sense of organization and a spine. Next season, he will be looking to add goals to his agenda, and has already said outright that he expects more scoring from the supporting cast around the lead striker.

Last season the Blues led the League in number of players with a goal scored, but the second highest scorer across all competitions was Ross Barkley with a paltry 6 goals, a full twenty behind top scorer Romelu Lukaku’s 26 strikes.

Klaassen meanwhile comes very highly recommended, with no lesser than the late great Johan Cruyff ranking him alongside contemporary elites like Xavi and Toni Kroos. Speaking a couple of years before he passed away last year, he said of his fellow Dutchman -

Specifically, some of the characteristics that Cruyff described are exactly areas where the Blues have struggled, with Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas both maddeningly inconsistent. The Toffees have had hardworking midfielders in recent years, but what Klaassen will provide we might not have seen since Mikel Arteta was at the peak of his powers at Goodison Park.

“For this position you must be strong positionally, you must control the pace of the ball and you must have the technique to deal with the pace of the ball. Xavi, Kroos and Davy Klaassen can do that.”

How often have we seen an Everton player dribble right into a player in the attacking half of the pitch, or woefully misplace a pass when in a threatening position? The 24-year-old Dutchman is not one to do that often.

“All three players have a perfect first touch and can pass the ball really well with both feet. Above that, he hardly ever loses possession.”

Koeman himself thinks quite highly of his countryman, saying -

“He’s a player who is only 24 but has a lot of experience and is a leader on the pitch. He has already captained Ajax for two seasons and that shows you the type of person he is.

“He is hardworking, likes to press and, of course, will give us more creativity and goals.

“It is another major signing for Everton Football Club and I am really happy we have been able to complete the deal so early in the summer.”

However, not everyone is as impressed with the player. Fox Sports senior football writer Ryan Rosenblatt pans the signing, grading it a ‘D’ -

He's done pretty well in the Eredivisie, but it's an easy league to be an attacker in and he's gone MIA against some of the better teams he's played against for club and country. That he was so ineffective against Manchester United in the Europa League final wasn't a one off -- there's reason to believe he's at that level when it comes to top competition.

A player whose passing isn't sublime, can't dictate tempo and has never hit 15 goals in a domestic season, despite playing in the Eredivisie, doesn't scream future star. And at 24 years old, this is pretty much the player he's going to be.

It’s interesting that the writer here sees the exact opposite of what Cruyff and Koeman said about Klaassen, criticizing him for the same abilities the former Dutch players credited him for.

Only time will tell who is right on this transfer, and if Klaassen can make good on his €27m move from Ajax Amsterdam.