How quickly things change in the world of football. Just over six months ago Everton were being soundly spanked 4-1 by Southampton at St. Mary’s with the hosts going to tenth in the Premier League table and Everton stuck in 16th and looking more likely to face the drop than not.
And now when the Saints visit Goodison Park on Saturday it’s the Blues who are up in eighth place while the visitors are desperately scrabbling for points in 18th place with just three games to go. If they do go down, then there is likely to be an exodus of players. They do play in the FA Cup final, but a win there (and European qualification) would be scant consolation for relegation, as Wigan Athletic know so well.
Southampton’s misfortune though gives Everton a chance to get a very close look at a number of players who could fill some needs in the Toffees’ squad - after all, who said the the Reds are the only Merseyside club that can go shopping at the South Coast!
Ryan Bertrand | Left back
Everton have been seeking a long-term replacement for Leighton Baines at the left fullback position, and the former Chelsea player could be a potentially good choice. Ryan Bertrand is 28 and on the fringes of the England squad for the 2018 World Cup this summer, and has the pedigree having won a Champions League trophy with the Londoners.
He is one of the few players that could be available at the position that would immediately supplant Baines as starter. However, Southampton might look to cash in on him and ask for something north of £20 million, which could be out of the Blues’ price range.
Wesley Hoedt | Centre back
The Dutch defender just joined the Saints at the beginning of this current season from Lazio, and though Toffees are hoping that it’s a different Dutchman from Rome that we’ll be signing (Stefan de Vrij), Wesley Hoedt is not a bad consolation at all.
The left-footed centre half is strong in the air with his big frame and with both Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka ageing fast, could be the long-term solution at only 24. He’s not going to come cheap, and will likely only move if Ramiro Funes Mori leaves the club.
Mario Lemina | Midfielder
After finding opportunities hard to come by in a crowded Juventus midfield, Mario Lemina transferred to Southampton and has had a very good first year in the Premier League. He’s been a key part of their buildup from the base of the midfield, the Gabon international will likely look for greener pastures if Southampton can’t avoid the drop.
At 24, he’s full of potential and would be a direct replacement for Morgan Schneiderlin who has appeared to hint a couple of times that he is looking to start afresh elsewhere. His passing range and creative abilities would make him an able partner for Idrissa Gueye in the double pivot, and Everton would be well-served to make a push for signing Lemina especially if the Steven N’Zonzi links fall through.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg | Midfielder
Hojbjerg is a central midfielder who could realistically play in a deep-lying, box-to-box, or advanced role — though he’s probably best utilized as a No. 8. He’s been in and out of Southampton’s lineup for much of this season which is bizarre when less-able players like Oriol Romeu and Steven Davis have gotten games instead.
In his time at Schalke and Southampton (when given chances, at least), he’s proven to be capable of playing significant minutes at this level. He might not supplant Idrissa Gueye or Gylfi Sigurdsson (or even Tom Davies?) in the center of the Everton midfield, but his work rate, technical ability, and tactical flexibility could make him a useful player going forward for the Toffees, especially if Davy Klaassen leaves this summer. He’s certainly a better option than the injury-prone Jack Wilshere who the Blues are constantly linked with.
Nathan Redmond | Winger
If indeed Ademola Lookman is sold at the end of this season and Henry Onyekuru stays out on loan at Anderlecht for another season, then Everton will need a left winger to compete with Yannick Bolasie for a starting spot. The Blues could do worse than Nathan Redmond, who has done well at the position for the Saints.
The 24-year-old has been at Southampton for two seasons, but is a bit of a one-trick pony out on the wing. He has impressed at the youth international level, but the Toffees selling Lookman only to buy Redmond seems like a redundant yet backward move.