Let’s just start off by saying this is a purely hypothetical article, based off no speculation whatsoever apart from observations of Everton’s needs and the chaos that Jose Mourinho’s third year at Manchester United has quickly descended into.
(PS - Less than a day after we wrote this Mourinho has been shown the door, wow!)
Everton need a striker. Of this there is no doubt whatsoever.
Not a “he’ll turn into something big soon” striker. Not a “young prospect that will need playing time to develop” forward. The Blues need a cold-blooded, ruthless fox-in-the-box that can score 20+ goals in the Premier League and do it now.
Under Marco Silva, this is not Sam Allardyce’s Everton that makes one worthwhile foray into an opponent’s box a game. This is not even David Moyes’ sturdy-in-the-back Toffees either. The 2018-19 avatar of the Blues is still developing, but it’s more like Roberto Martinez’s first season side, but with more structure.
Where the Blues have lacked has been in two key areas - midfield and striker.
Everton have no shortage of midfielders, but the sum of the whole has not been top six level. Andre Gomes has grabbed his starting role and run with it, but doesn’t provide enough of an attacking punch on his own. Idrissa Gueye is an elite ball-winner, but does not offer nearly enough in the opponents’ half of the pitch. Tom Davies, Morgan Schneiderlin, James McCarthy.. none of them are the answer, for various other reasons.
Up front, the committee of Richarlison, Cenk Tosun, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Oumar Niasse all bring different qualities to the table, but none of them are the solution at the position.
Enter Manchester United and the utter shambles that their season has devolved into. Jose Mourinho and this third-year-itch is a common phenomenon that we’ve seen occur twice at Chelsea and at Real Madrid before that. The Red Devils are continuing to coast along on individual talent (and Marouane Fellaini’s aerial prowess), but you can only assume that big changes are coming soon at Old Trafford.
Two of the most expensive players in the world are plying their trade at United - Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku - with both yo-yoing in and out of Mourinho’s good graces so fast that it’s a miracle they don’t have whiplash. Now if either of the pair were to become available for a loan in January.. who should Everton pursue?
Let’s start with Lukaku. The Belgian’s exit and his behaviour in the years leading to his departure from Everton rubbed many fans the wrong way. Every international break appeared to be an opportunity for him and his camp to extol his virtues while simultaneously denigrating the very club he played for.
Lukaku also developed a bit of a reputation for going missing in important games when playing bigger teams, but yet popped up time and again with games already resolved or when playing inferior opposition, cementing his “flat-track bully” nickname.
His apparently lackadaisical attitude and selective effort spawned plenty of “yer da” tropes in his spell at Everton, but there is not doubting that when on top of his game he remains one of the best strikers we’ve had in the Premier League era.
Plenty of players in last year’s squad had question marks around them regarding attitude, but this season most of those players have looked renewed under Marco Silva and how he has managed the team? Is he the man to get Lukaku firing on all cylinders again?
Then there’s Pogba. One could safely argue that he has not consistently shown the greatness e is capable of since he left Juventus, but even at the World Cup in a side littered with world class talent, he was one of the leaders in the France side that was crowned world champions.
What his best position should be is a debate that has been ongoing for his entire career, but what there is no mistake about is his class. Comfortable on the ball, strong in the air, capable of the most sublime passes that lesser players don’t even see, and a lethal striker of the ball from both inside and outside the box.
Burdened by the defensive duties that Mourinho has saddled him with, he’s struggled to shine in the attacking half, but throw Idrissa Gueye behind him to cover the defensive aspect and let him run free with either Andre Gomes or Gylfi Sigurdsson, and you could have a dominant midfield that almost certainly gets you into the top six.
So with all that said, if either were available, who should it be for you?
If Everton could get one of these two Manchester United players on loan in January, who do you want?
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