Marco Silva quashed speculation surrounding Ademola Lookman’s Everton future by confirming he is a big part of his plans.
Lookman, 20, arrived from Charlton Athletic in January 2017 for a fee rising up to £11.5 million, but having found opportunities limited under both Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce, joined RB Leipzig on loan for the second half of last campaign.
His form in Germany was excellent, scoring five goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances, and has reportedly been the subject of numerous offers from the club this summer [The Independent].
But Silva, in Friday’s press conference before tomorrow’s trip to Wolverhampton, sought to lay these rumours to rest, saying:
“Of course he is in my plans. He is an important player.
“I know all the speculation; since the first day I told the owner, I told everybody at the club [to keep him], and I did my technical analysis about him and he is a good player, a good talent.
“Of course he was happy there [at Leipzig]. Now is our moment to make him happy here, to work with him, to improve his qualities and his profile, as well as a player, because he is our present and our future.”
Silva was pressed on several other individuals, such as central defender Yerry Mina, a deadline day signing from Barcelona. Asked why his transfer proved a particularly protracted deal, he said:
“The market is really difficult and in the World Cup year, [we have the] most difficulties.
“[It is] not easy to bring players to Everton because normally they ask for a lot of money in some moments, but you are happy of course.
“As a coach I would prefer if everybody is here on 3 July but it is impossible. We are happy with the players who stayed in our squad and the players we bring in.”
However, he refuted the claim that the signing of Mina, and fellow centre-half Kurt Zouma on loan Chelsea (pending announcement), would spell the end of veteran Phil Jagielka’s 11-year spell at the Blues. Silva told the press:
“If you compare with last season, we sold Funes Mori, Ashley Williams, and Mangala came on loan. The number of central defenders are the same. We needed to bring in new centre backs.”
The Portuguese manager described fellow last-minute arrivals Bernard and Andre Gomes as different options to those already at his disposal, saying that the former will “bring quality for us and bring some competition.
“I need to have problems to decide the XI because only this way the club can grow and our players can compete really to take his position in the XI.”
Gomes, a loan signing from Barcelona, is someone who his compatriot Silva knows well, and who, he said, “for sure will help us,” though the manager admitted there is no option to buy him at the end of the season.
Both players, as well as Mina and Zouma, will not be available for Saturday’s game at Molineux due to the lateness of the arrival, the manager revealed:
“The players are here, working really hard to take this position to achieve good results for us and we have to give time to the others to come here to prove their value.”
Silva was also relaxed when asked what he made of conjecture surrounding the reported £40 million spent on winger Richarlison, citing the fuss that was made when the Blues paid £30 million for Jordan Pickford last summer. He said:
“Now, nobody puts in doubt his [Pickford’s] value. The market is now really difficult and when you believe in one player to come to improve our squad, you have to do everything you can to sign these players.
“If the player will perform well and help us to achieve our goals, nobody will speak about the price of the player.”
Muhamed Besic was expected to depart the Toffees for Middlesbrough on Thursday, but his £6 million move to the north east failed to materialise, much to Silva’s bemusement.
“Something happened between the club and the player or between the club and the agent. I don’t know really what has happened, but between the clubs everything was agreed.”
The Bosnian, as well as other fringe players such as Cuco Martina and Yannick Bolasie, may still leave before the end of August, though Silva said his immediate attention has now turned to tomorrow’s season-opener:
“If something happens in the next few days, next few weeks as well, of course at this moment I let you know but in this moment, our focus is all on the matches.”