The plan was foolproof. At least, so Sam Allardyce thought.
Having steered Everton relatively clear of what was a genuine possibility of relegation before Christmas, now was the chance for the Everton manager to dispel the widespread belief that his sides play a dire, unattractive brand of football.
As well as Theo Walcott, a £20 million arrival from Arsenal, who would add the sort pace and trickery on the wing Everton had desperately lacked previously, Cenk Tosun was another key component.
Tosun, Allardyce felt, was the man whose goals would accelerate Everton’s climb up the table, a player who could lift the burden on the shoulders of the ageing Wayne Rooney and the erratic Oumar Niasse in a side still mourning the depature of their talisman, Romelu Lukaku. His 38 strikes in the past season-and-a-half with Beşiktaş certainly afforded that sentiment credibility.
It is now almost a year since Tosun’s £27 million deal from was completed, and unfortunately, despite fleeting signs of encouragement that he could fill this void, it ultimately has not worked so far.
He endured a frustrating start, with Allardyce preferring Niasse as a starter to help Tosun acclimatise to a league he had no previous playing experience of, but looked to have put that behind him when he scored four goals in three games in March.
In truth, though, Tosun could have scored hat-tricks in every game he played under Allardyce; he would still not have saved him from the sack. Such was the discord between manager and fan base, Allardyce’s position was rendered untenable long before he was - rightly - jettisoned on May 16.
Indeed, though Evertonians repeatedly vocalised their disdain for Allardyce’s unambitious tactics, there could be little arguments they probably suited Tosun, and certainly did more than the style of play adopted by Allardyce’s replacement, Marco Silva.
In a team instructed to play long ball after long ball, Tosun’s imposing stature meant he was often a beneficiary of such a game plan, his blatant lack of pace inconsequential as a result. Until Silva, though, the Turk’s limitations have been painfully exposed.
Unlike his predecessor, Silva advocates a progressive, dynamic style of play, of which speed and high pressing are the cornerstone. Sadly for Tosun, in spite of his tireless, industrious attitude on the pitch, it has become evident that he just does not have the attributes to adapt to his manager’s philosophy.
After a goalless start to the campaign, Tosun was justifiably dropped, firstly for fellow forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and then for winger Richarlison, whose excellent start to life at Goodison Park following his £50 million summer move convinced Silva he could deputise as a central striker.
Though it has become clear that the Brazilian is far from a natural in this position, he has indisputably been a more productive number nine than Tosun had under Silva.
For instance, look at Richarlison’s first goal in last month’s home win against Brighton & Hove Albion. An attack which stemmed from a Seagulls corner was built on Gylfi Sigurðsson’s quick breakaway and the electrifying pace of both him and his compatriot, Bernard.
By the time Everton had worked the ball into a threatening position, Richarlison was ready and waiting in the penalty box, and confidently applied the finish when receiving the ball from Sigurðsson.
Yet such was the speed with which Everton broke, it is difficult to imagine this attack bearing fruit in quite the same way had Tosun been up front instead. Not least because Tosun, perhaps more than any of his team-mates currently, looks and plays like a player totally bereft of confidence.
He always gives his all, as alluded to earlier, but galling misses from yards out against Newcastle United on Wednesday, or West Ham United in September, had a sorry air of inevitability about them, akin to the inescapable feeling among Evertonians in the latter days of Nikica Jelavić’s time on Merseyside. Whatever the reason is for his impotence, it just is not happening for him in front of goal.
It is also telling that he has gone from Silva’s first-choice striker at the start of the campaign to second fiddle even from the bench. In recent meetings with Liverpool, Chelsea and Brighton, the manager has opted to prefer Calvert-Lewin as a subtitute; a player who, at 21, is still raw, but whose acceleration and aerial threat makes him better-suited to Silva’s setup than Tosun.
Calvert-Lewin, clearly, is not yet ready for Everton to rely on him primarily as their source of goals; his fairly uninspiring return of 13 strikes in 69 Blues appearances attests to that.
But his movement makes him at times a more likely goalscorer than Tosun who, by contrast, can appear so static that you wonder if Premier League defenders have had easier strikers to mark so far this term. Whereas with Calvert-Lewin, you are still nurturing potential to a certain extent, you expect the finished article from Tosun, now 27, but it simply is not materialising.
There can be no denying Tosun’s willingness to succeed at Goodison. He sacrificed a Champions League last 16 tie with Beşiktaş last season to join the Toffees, always plays with a smile on his face and though he would be justified in feeling disappointed with a lack of game time lately, has never publicly complained about his treatment.
It should also not be overlooked that when he does score, he has provided vital goals; all seven of his finishes have either given Everton the lead or put them 2-0 up at crucial points in the match.
But in that statistic lies a more damning truth. Even with the sizeable financial muscle of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri now behind them, the club will have expected a greater return on £27 million than a mere seven goals in 28 games. He is the club’s second most expensive striker, with Lukaku’s fee outweighing Tosun’s by just £1 million, yet the contrast in what the two forwards offered the club in front of goal is incalculable.
Tosun did not leave his native Turkey to be second, or even third-choice striker, at the Blues, and it is a shame that, at least so far, he has not proved a successful signing for Everton.
But when his style of play is so glaringly at odds with that of his manager’s, a parting of ways in the near future seems a formality.
In a system that relies so heavily on pace, Tosun’s total lack of it means he is only likely to speed up his own departure from Goodison, and he will probably be all the better for it.