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Signing a striker must be Everton’s top summer priority

As admirably as Dominic Calvert-Lewin has performed of late, up front is patently where the Blues are most in need of additions

Crystal Palace v Everton FC - Premier League
Calvert-Lewin cannot be relied on so heavily for the whole of next season by Marco Silva
Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images

As Martin Kelly’s lax defending gave Dominic Calvert-Lewin an early chance to put Everton ahead at Crystal Palace on Saturday, a familiar air of inevitably soon prevailed.

The Toffees striker had, up until then, done everything to perfection, chasing down a trademark Jordan Pickford long ball, pestering central defender Kelly to the point of submission, foraging an enormous opportunity for himself to score, with only goalkeeper Vicente Guaita to beat.

Then came his next touch. And then his next. And then his next. And then a tame shot straight into the grateful arms of Guaita. The pressure told; the chance having passed Calvert-Lewin by.

There is much to admire about Calvert-Lewin. Though clearly still a rough diamond at just 22, he provides Everton with probably their best aerial threat up front and shows a maturity on and off the field belying his relative inexperience, particularly at this level of English football.

Newcastle United v Everton FC - Premier League
Calvert-Lewin’s last Everton goal came against Newcastle United on March 9
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

But if Marco Silva and owner Farhad Moshiri are to have serious designs on breaking into the seemingly unassailable top six as soon as possible, Saturday’s goalless draw at Selhurst Park would surely have told them where Everton’s greatest need lies this summer.

Calvert-Lewin has started all nine Everton games since their revival began with a 3-0 win at Cardiff City in late February. In that time, he has, in the main, played extremely well, if only managing two goals.

While he deserves all of the plaudits that have come his way lately, that he has managed a fairly meagre goal return in his first real extended run in Silva’s team this term is rather reflective of his Goodison Park career so far; excellent at a great deal, but not finishing.

It is a run that suggests he has great potential and merits a place in and around the starting XI, but is not yet ready to be the difference between Everton reaching the top six and remaining outside it.

There has been a fair amount of revisionism over Romelu Lukaku’s time on Merseyside, the sort which only increases the more 'bulked-up' he looks in the red of Manchester United, or the more he falls over the ball.

Yet for all of the arguments that Everton would still have finished seventh in 2016/17 without his goals, or that his strikes only won the Blues three matches that season, he gave Evertonians hope that, out of absolutely nothing, he could save them in a split-second.

Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Lukaku scored 26 goals in his final season at Everton
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Therein lay the main reason as to why the Blues’ points haul of 61 in Lukaku’s final year will not be matched this season. In reality, under Silva, they look a far more settled and frankly better side than two years ago; so far up the pitch as midfield, at least.

Whereas Lukaku excelled in little else besides finishing, Calvert-Lewin often seems to be the polar opposite. Unfair as it may seem, though, it is the former’s best attribute which will win more points than the latter’s.

Allowing Calvert-Lewin to take a breather may also benefit his development, too. To place such overreliance on a youngster still learning his trade in the Premier League would be a dangerous ploy which has hindered the progress of young Toffees talents before; Tom Davies and Ross Barkley, for instance.

Elsewhere up top, Cenk Tosun has had enough chances to prove himself and has clearly fallen so far out of favour that it seems best for all parties that a likeable, if too often ineffective, player departs Goodison this summer. The same applies to fellow forward Oumar Niasse, while there is no way back cast-off Sandro Ramirez, a man whose Everton career never really even began.

Crystal Palace v Everton FC - Premier League
Tosun’s Everton career has run its course
Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images

Should all of this not so holy trinity exit, that would leave Calvert-Lewin as the club’s only natural senior striker. Irrespective of whether you believe he is good enough to lead Everton’s line, Silva will need reinforcements nonetheless.

If Silva sticks rather than twists, he could be gambling with Calvert-Lewin’s career as much his own managerial career.