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Everton Season Review: Attacking Midfielders

From a surplus of #10s.. to this

Everton v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Welcome to the 2017-18 Everton Season Review. You might feel there’s nothing good that came out of the last season, and you might be mostly right. Today, the attacking midfielders.

2017-18 Attacking Midfield Performance

Player Minutes Goals Assists Key Passes/90 Pass %
Player Minutes Goals Assists Key Passes/90 Pass %
Gylfi Sigurdsson 2262 4 3 1.4 74.9
Wayne Rooney 2284 10 2 1.1 77.7
Davy Klaassen 251 0 0 0.3 79.8
Nikola Vlasic 577 0 0 1 73.9

Gylfi Sigurdsson

Performance: Sigurdsson was meant to be the crown jewel of Everton’s record-setting transfer window. After drawn-out negotiations and a club record £40million fee, the former Swansea midfielder was going to add the playmaking ability in the middle of the pitch that Ross Barkley had failed to provide. When the season was all said and done, the results were mixed.

Sigurdsson’s arrival was delayed by the Swans’ reluctance to let him leave, and he joined the team a week after the season had started, meaning he would have to gel with his new squad on the fly. Largely deployed on the left wing by Ronald Koeman, Sigurdsson struggled to contribute consistently and his hefty price tag became a question mark.

As Sigurdsson settled into the squad in his rightful #10 spot, his presence was undoubtedly a positive one. His knack for finding teammates in space and around the goal was a welcome sight, but one couldn’t help but feel that we were not seeing the player we were expecting. In the end, four goals and three assists are a far cry from the nine goals and 13 assists he put up in the previous campaign, and he was unfortunate to sustain a knee injury that prevented us from seeing if he could get there this season either.

Future Outlook: At 28-years-old, Sigurdsson is still in the prime of his career. It’s difficult to lay to much blame at his feet given the dysfunction surrounding his transfer and the team as a whole this season.

Assuming he is healthy, the World Cup in Russia may prevent him from a full summer of recovery. But he should hopefully be healthy and ready to contribute for Everton next season.

Grade: C+. When he was healthy and settled, he was the player Everton needed in the center of the park. Unfortunately, circumstances beyond his control didn’t allow him to showcase what a good player he can truly be.

Wayne Rooney

Performance: Finally returning to Goodison to help push his boyhood club over the hump and into top-four glory, Wayne Rooney ended up being a divisive figure for Everton this season.

In the first half of the season, his statistical output was difficult to argue with. On a struggling Everton squad, he was the only player scoring with any regularity. Through the first 18 matches of the season he had 10 goals, a hat trick and scored in five consecutive matches. But despite this impressive output, there didn’t seem to be much clamoring for him to get more minutes.

Even as things were going well for Rooney he was a sort of black hole in Everton’s line-up. When he received the ball in midfield, he would often hold on to it for far too long or make some ill-advised pass before turning it over. His play was largely poor, but he would end up scoring a goal, playing a couple of excellent passes here and there and therefore justifying his place in the team the following week.

Future Outlook: At this moment, it appears that Rooney is set to join Major League Soccer side DC United. However, this is not finalized and Everton’s staff overhaul could convince Rooney to stay another season at Goodison.

I for one hope he heads to the US. His return to Everton was fun for a while, but his presence only prevents younger and better players from getting into the side.

Grade: C-. Rooney’s stats paper over an endless string of frustrating performances. His homecoming at Goodison was a fun idea, but the reality was disappointing.

Davy Klaassen

Performance: As one of the big signings in Steve Walsh and Ronald Koeman’s failed summer overhaul, Davy Klaassen was expected to be a big contributor for Everton this season. Young and coming off a wildly successful season with Ajax, many were rightfully excited at what Klaassen could bring to Everton. But like most of Everton’s summer signings, supporters were left disappointed.

Klaassen immediately struggled to adjust to the Premier League. He looked slow, unsure and was largely invisible on the pitch. As Koeman managed for his job, Klaassen became a casualty and was relegated to the bench. Upon Koeman’s dismissal, Klaassen was left out of the squad entirely. He would not make the team sheet again until March and played only 61 minutes in the last 8 matches.

Grade: Incomplete. Having played only 249 minutes in the Premier League, it’s difficult to rate Klaassen’s performance this season. If we were grading expectations, then he gets an F, but his lack of time on the pitch make it impossible to grade him.

Future Outlook: Maybe I’m being overly sentimental, but I would love to see Klaassen get a real shot next season. Maybe he ends up being another player who cannot adjust to the Premier League, but his output from Ajax is difficult to ignore. Having a midfielder who can score in bunches in addition to solid passing is not something to scoff at.

Nikola Vlasic

Performance: Vlasic’s story with Everton is very similar to that of Klaassen. Both young and promising and both utterly vanished once Sam Allardyce came on board. Vlasic did not arrive with the expectations of Klaassen, but Everton were clearly very impressed with his performance with Hajduk Split in the Europa League qualifiers.

Vlasic’s only consistent minutes came in the Europa League group stage where he notched his only points for Everton as they quickly flamed out of European competition. The few times he did play in the Premier League were largely unimpressive. He certainly has excellent skill and an ability to take on defenders, but he was never able to put it all together for a consistent performance.

Eventually Vlasic largely disappeared from the Everton line-up and saw sporadic minutes for the remainder of the season.

Grade: Incomplete. Vlasic played more than Klaassen, but barely. When he did make the team, he was rarely subbed on making it difficult to judge him.

Future Outlook: At only 20-years-old Vlasic is probably not a player to give up on. There were flashes of a good player, but he was never going to play consistently under Allardyce. I would love to see him with the team again next year to see if the new staff can unlock more potential in him.