Everton director of football Marcel Brands says he is pleased with the club’s summer business, despite the club leaving a lot of deals late.
This was Brands’ first transfer window at Goodison Park after replacing Steve Walsh in May, and told BBC Radio Merseyside of his satisfaction with the deals he completed, though he admitted the World Cup and an earlier deadline than usual hindered proceedings. He said:
“At the end I was happy. Your wish is always that you get your signings a little bit earlier, that you have a normal pre-season, and now the Premier League starts already, and our new signings have not had any pre-season, so that takes always a little bit more time.
“I came in also quite late, so I think all those circumstances have made it a little more difficult. Hopefully next year we hope we don’t need such a number of signings and if we need one or two signings that they come a little bit earlier.”
Brands, also told of how, having identified positions in need of improvement with new manager Marco Silva, he is pleased with how these gaps have been plugged.
The Dutchman, who won three league titles in eight years in the same role at PSV Eindhoven, feels Everton’s squad now has more quality than last season, and is happy that, following the exits of veterans like Wayne Rooney and Ashley Williams, the group’s average age has been reduced.
“It was clear when I started in the first meeting with the press with Marco together that we say ‘OK, we identify our target positions’, so I think we did that.”
“We bring the centre backs [Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina], we bring a left back [Lucas Digne], we bring a winger [Richarlison].
“I think we could be satisfied. I think we improved the squad, we made it a little bit younger, I think there is more balance, so hopefully we can make a good team of it.”
Of the deadline day arrivals, André Gomes, a loanee from Barcelona, is out with a muscle injury, while Bernard and Zouma have already been pictured training with the squad at Finch Farm.
Colombian Mina has not been seen yet, though - his transfer was completed in Barcelona - but Brands confirmed that the central defender will join up with the team tomorrow [16 August], and said that Evertonians’ high expectations of the £28.5 million signing from the Camp Nou must be tempered with patience:
“He [Mina] is starting tomorrow.
“I think everyone sees his quality, but you cannot say directly how many times he will need to adapt in the Premier League, in the way we play, in the language, so you have to give him a little bit of time for that.”
Everton kicked off the new era under Brands and Silva last Saturday with a spirited 2-2 draw at newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers, playing the second half with ten men after Phil Jagielka’s red card shortly before half-time.
Many praised the Toffee’s attack-minded performance at Molineux, not least because Silva and Brands inherited a squad on a low ebb after a disappointing 2017-18 campaign. The Blues spent more than £130 million last summer but flirted with relegation early on under Ronald Koeman and slumped to an eight-placed finish with Sam Allardyce, both of whom lost their jobs.
Now, though, thanks to the surgery carried out on the playing and coaching staff in the summer, Brands sees real potential in his project, though again stressed that it will take time for royal blue dreams to be realised.
“We want to improve so how it develops we will see.”
“I think we have a better squad, we need some time to get signings to make a team of the squad and the staff is working very hard on that, and you need a few good results to get the confidence in the team, but we are quite confident that that will happen.”
Brands oversaw the departure of more than ten first-team players this summer, either on loan or permanently, and accepted that forcing some out of the door proved an arduous task, not least because of the glamour of the Premier League. He added:
“Players in England make good salaries and it’s difficult to offload them because the Premier League is one of the best competitions in the world.
“Players don’t like to leave that competition, it’s difficult for other countries to pay that kind of wages so it is not easy so you have to be careful if you do new signings. Let’s hope that they are the right ones.”
Quotes taken from transcription of BBC Radio Merseyside interview