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Everton needs to sign younger players

Aging defence could be a concern in a long season

Everton v MFK Ruzomberok - UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Round: First Leg Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

While Everton have gone out and bought a half a dozen new players this summer, the core of the team as only gotten older since last year and more needs to be done to reduce the average age, especially in the defence.

The starting eleven in last week’s Europa League qualifier against MFK Ruzomberok had an average age of 27.3 years, which is not terrible but at the same time not a good sign for the future either. As of March this year, that number was even higher at 28.0, which was 13th oldest in the Premier League.

Everton starting XI against MFK Ruzomberok

With the arrival of Ronald Koeman, there has been a marked effort to clear out some deadwood from the squad, but along with that has been the exit of some younger players as well, notably Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and (likely) Ross Barkley. The argument can be made that John Stones technically departed last summer too, even though it was pre-Koeman. Among players slightly older than that but still under the 28-years-old mark now gone are Tom Cleverley, Bryan Oviedo and (likely) Oumar Niasse.

Here’s how the squad’s ages last season matched up with percentage of Everton’s Premier League minutes on the vertical scale.

Everton 2016-17 season
Royal Blue Mersey

Going into this new season, all the players still with the club are now a year older, but have added four players in the young range, which is under 24 (Sandro Ramirez, Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Davy Klaassen), then Cuco Martina is 27 and Wayne Rooney is 31 years old.

Everton 2017-18 season
Royal Blue Mersey

Most of the additions are expected to play a significant number of minutes, which should reduce the number of players in the upper right quadrant of the graphic below, but the concern remains that players like Ashley Williams and Leighton Baines could still be called upon to play significant minutes this term.

Everton 2017-18 season (projected)

While age cannot be the sole determinant when signing a player, this is an area where Director of Football Steve Walsh’s expertise as a talent scout specializing in youth will be needed going forward.

It’s going to take more than a couple of transfer windows to completely overhaul the squad, especially the ageing defence. At least one depth signing for the leftback/left centreback position is still expected before the summer ends but it might not be until January or even next summer before a longer term solution will be available for the club to bring in.