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What positions do Everton need in the January transfer window?

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After a run of poor form, do the Toffees need reinforcements to compete for sixth?

Everton v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

With the January transfer window almost upon us, it’s time to take one last look at the current state of the Everton roster, to see where Marco Silva and Marcel Brands might look for reinforcements.

Recent run of dodgy form notwithstanding, most of Brands’ summer signings have made an immediate impact at Everton, and Silva has done well to get the most out of both new players and Everton veterans. As a result, there are really only three positions that Everton might realistically look to bolster next month — right-back, central midfield, and striker.

Let’s take a look at the situation at each position, Everton’s current players, and a holiday-themed rating of how likely a move at the position is.

Right-Back

Current Players: Seamus Coleman, Jonjoe Kenny

Coleman has been among the most criticized Everton players this season — and I’m not quite convinced that’s fair. His crossing, creative, and defensive stats are all well in line with his career averages (as we discussed on the School of Science Radio podcast recently.

There have definitely been moments where he’s looked a little slower or more out of position than Everton supporters are used to, but calls to immediately drop or replace him are almost certain to fall on deaf ears.

Jonjoe Kenny, however, was truly underwhelming in his short stint of starts earlier this season. He turns 22 in March, and hasn’t shown any tangible signs of improvement since his full integration into the squad last season. His crossing, defensive positioning, and defensive decision-making remain suspect.

Leicester City v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

I suspect, though, that Everton won’t look to replace him in this window. The most sensible play for Brands and Silva is to stick with what they’ve got at right-back for now — accepting that it isn’t the club’s strongest or deepest position — and then re-evaluate after the season is over.

By that point, Coleman’s status going forward will be clearer, and the club can decide whether it needs to add just a backup for the Irish defender, or if a signing more in the Lucas Digne realm is needed at right-back.

Likelihood of Signing: You know those car commercials they show like 18 million times during the holidays, where some generic-looking commercial actor gets a car from his wife for Christmas? And you just look at the TV thinking, “Who actually gets a car for Christmas? Can that guy pay for the insurance for that car? How did he not see the car in his own freakin’ driveway before now? Who is this commercial actually targeting anyway? This makes no sense.”

It’s basically like that.

Central Midfield

Current Players: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Andre Gomes, Idrissa Gueye, Morgan Schneiderlin, Tom Davies, James McCarthy, Kieran Dowell, Beni Baningime

This is easily the most difficult position to parse, because there are so many midfielders already on the roster, each bringing a different thing to the table.

The preferred trio is Sigurdsson (the play-maker), Gana (the ball-winner), and Gomes (the ball-progressor) — and despite the glut of warm bodies behind these three players, there isn’t really a natural replacement for even just one of these guys on the bench.

Scheiderlin, McCarthy, and Davies are basically known quantities at this point. The former is a slower, less aggressive version of Gomes, while McCarthy and Davies are less successful Gana-type players.

Given that McCarthy and Davies seem likely to stay, while Schneiderlin seems likely to go, the logical conclusion is likely that if Everton decides to add a central midfielder, it would be a backup to either Gomes or Sigurdsson.

Of course, in Baningimie and Dowell, the Toffees have two young players who theoretically fit the mold of Gomes and Sigurdsson — but neither seems to have Silva’s full trust.

Likelihood of Signing: It’s Christmas Eve and you’re at the mall one hour before closing time. You’ve already bought your wife more than enough gifts for Christmas, but she said she really wants another sweater. She already has lots of sweaters. Some of them are actually pretty nice sweaters. Some of them are ugly, beat-up, and not worth wearing.

You can’t decide what she needs more — a red, blue, or green one. Well, you know she doesn’t need one, but it would be a nice addition.

There’s now ten minutes left before the mall closes. You still can’t decide what color best fits her current wardrobe. Do you buy one and hope it isn’t a waste of money, or just wait until her birthday in the spring to get her one?

Everton FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Striker

Current Players: Cenk Tosun, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Oumar Niasse, Richarlison (?)

The extent to which you think the Toffees need a striker is probably directly related to what you think of Richarlison at striker.

If you think he’s cut out for the position long-term, you probably think we’re fine up top — Richarlison can start with Tosun and/or Calvert-Lewin backing him up.

If you don’t, then you’re left with Tosun, Calvert-Lewin, and a likely-departing Niasse up top — and think reinforcements might be needed.

It’s a tough spot for Silva and Brands. All three of Tosun, Calvert-Lewin, and Richarlison have had positive moments at striker this season, and none have had enough playing time to say with real certainty that they are or are not cut out for the position on this team.

But, the club has scored just 24 goals in 17 matches — fewer than Manchester United, Bournemouth, and West Ham United. So it certainly isn’t as though goals are flying into the net at Goodison Park either.

The club could decide to ride it out with its current striking options — and if one or more of this trio managed to firmly grasp the opportunity, Brands and Silva would look like geniuses for their patients. But, with a top-six finish so attainable this season, can they afford that risk?

Likelihood of Signing: Marco Silva sits alone in a quiet room watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the first time. When Rudolph manages to save Christmas, the manager thinks to himself: “Hmm...a young, oft-forgotten youngster who’s a little funny-looking, coming in at the last moment to save the day. If only I had someone like that to solve our striker problems.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Silva swears he sees Dominic Calvert-Lewin move inside the squad picture he keeps on his desk. Silva ponders for a moment.

“Oh well — guess it’s time to call Marcel and talk about the striker we’re going to add this January.”