Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you know where things stand on Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson pursuit.
Ronald Koeman wants the player. Gylfi seems more than willing to leave. Swansea City are determined to get £50 million for the player, who is crucial to the club’s ability to stay in the Premier League.
And so we find ourselves at this impasse — Everton may be willing to pay for the player, but certainly at least seems reluctant to do so at such a high price.
And I know what you’re probably thinking: “Great — another thinkpiece on how Sigurdsson isn’t worth the money. Alright, we get it already.”
But, you would be wrong!
I don’t care how much Everton pays for Gylfi Sigurdsson. As RBM’s Sean Lunt pointed out earlier in the week, we’ve placed trust in Koeman and Steve Walsh to evaluate and fairly price players we are less familiar with — Sandro Ramirez, Davy Klaassen, and even Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford to a lesser extent — so it doesn’t make sense to overanalyze their potential willingness to pay big money for the Icelandic star.
If they want him, great. If it costs £50 million, fine — it isn’t my money anyway.
The problem is that this saga has now drawn on for a month, and the Toffees are running out of time to make moves before crunch time begins. Everton’s first competitive match of the year, a third round qualifier in the Europa League, is on July 27, barely a week away.
The dragging on of the potential Gylfi transfer means that there is no chance the 27-year-old will be ready to play for Everton in that match, even if a transfer was finalized as soon as tomorrow.
The bigger picture? No one else has been signed to play the position Koeman has earmarked Sigurdsson for either.
Consider the Everton roster as it stands now; Davy Klaassen, Tom Davies, and (maybe) Ross Barkley are all available in an attacking midfield role, so it seems most likely that Gylfi would slot into the left-sided attacker’s role. In the absence of Sigurdsson, or the signing of another wide attacking player, who is left?
Kevin Mirallas? Aaron Lennon? Perhaps newly-signed Sandro Ramirez? Not exactly an overly impressive group.
Yet the reality is that two of those players will probably start on July 27, as well as the return leg on August 3. Might a lack of movement on the Gylfi / winger front mean Everton will have to rely on those three players for the Europa League play-off round as well? It’s certainly possible.
Let’s not underestimate the impact this lack of movement could have on the Premier League season as well. Recall that Everton’s opening five fixtures are:
If the Toffees’ league goal this year is a top-four pursuit, they’re going to have do better against top clubs — four of which they play in the opening five weeks of the season.
Do you want to see Mirallas, Lennon, and Sandro, or a barely-acclimated new winger trying to take on City, Chelsea, Spurs, and United?
I know I don’t.
The moral of the story is this — while Everton have allowed the Gylfi Sigurdsson saga to carry on, the club missed its opportunity to ideally prepare itself for a brutal opening month of the season across multiple competitions.
Regardless of whether you think Gylfi is worth the money or not, there’s no doubt that because the Toffees have been forced to put things on hold while waiting for Swansea to come around, they are in a tough position going into the start of competitive play.
The early signings of Klaassen, Pickford, Keane, and Sandro were exactly what the club needed in order to prepare for a bevy of early fixtures. The delay associated with the signing of Sigurdsson — or any eventual alternative to the Icelander (Las Palmas’ Jonathan Viera comes to mind) — threatens to undo all that hard work just days before Everton’s season begins.