From the rumours that are swirling around Everton’s transfer activity, it appears Marco Silva is looking to add a central midfielder to bolster the Toffees’ middle.
However, the list of four names we’ve seen linked over the last few days is a pretty underwhelming bunch, so we run the rule over them and see where they fit in the current squad.
Let’s start by taking a look at who’s in the squad currently - Morgan Schneiderlin, Idrissa Gueye, Tom Davies, Beni Baningime, Muhamed Besic and James McCarthy. The first three are all regular starters, with Baningime and Besic likely being kept on for cover while McCarthy recovers from his double leg-break.
The Portuguese midfielder is like the human appendix. He must have filled some sort of meaningful purpose at some point, but it was so long ago that no one is entirely sure what it is at this point.
Gomes’ passing numbers are pretty good, but he plays on Barcelona, so that’s true of basically every one of his teammates. His defensive contributions are basically non-existent, and he’s not a player who frequently pops up in front of goal. It’s saying something when Paulinho shows up from China, steals your starting spot for the season, and then is promptly dispatched back to the Orient.
He didn’t make the Portugal squad for the World Cup over the summer, and has only two caps in 2018. If he isn’t good enough to make a national team that brought Manuel Fernandes and Adrien Silva to Russia, he probably isn’t good enough for Everton either.
The English midfielder broke onto the scene playing alongside N’Golo Kante during Leicester City’s magical run to the 2015-16 Premier League title. The question then is how much of Drinkwater’s best simply a byproduct of playing with Kante?
He’s certainly not great at anything, but he isn’t particularly bad at anything either. He’s a decent passer, decent defender, and decent on the ball — but that’s it. His move to Chelsea was a strange one, especially for the sum of £35 million, because it seemed very clear he’s not got the quality to cut it at that level.
At Everton though, he might be a reasonable rotation-level player.
Another Chelsea reject, Bakayoko also broke onto the scene while playing next to a more gifted midfielder — Fabinho, now of Liverpool.
Bakayoko is a pretty miserable passer, but covers a lot of ground and brings obvious physicality to the midfield. That... pretty much makes him a less good version of Idrissa Gueye.
He certainly shouldn’t be starting ahead of Gana, and he’s not got anywhere near the passing ability to play the deeper midfield role. Would he accept a back-up role at a just-above mid-table team?
Of this group, the Senegalese midfielder is the toughest to judge. Ndiaye moved from Galatasaray to Stoke City in January last season after a year-and-a-half at Turkey’s biggest club — and that’s really all we have to determine his value.
He projects as a box-to-box midfielder, and was an every-match player for Stoke following his move to the club. Ndiaye was unremarkable in the Potter’s first game in the Championship this weekend. Is moving immediately into the starting XI at the league’s worst club a sign that he’d have value at Everton?
The one thing common you’ll notice in all four of these midfielders is that they all project as backups for Idrissa Gueye, and not Morgan Schneiderlin.
This could mean that Marco Silva is satisfied with Schneiderlin and Beni Baningime as cover in that deep-lying midfielder position. There have also been some shouts (mostly from fans, nothing we’ve seen on the pitch) with moving Gueye to Schneiderlin’s spot and playing two attack-minded mids (Gylfi Sigurdsson’s position) against certain opposition, which could also happen.