Everton manager Marco Silva has said he is pleased with the work the club have done during the summer transfer window ahead of tomorrow’s season-opener at Crystal Palace.
The Blues lost Idrissa Gueye and Ademola Lookman last month, while Chelsea loanee Kurt Zouma did not return on a permanent basis, but brought in seven new players at a cost of about £110 million.
And while he admits it was a difficult market to deal in at times, Silva is happy with the squad at his disposal going into his second campaign as Everton manager.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, he said:
“Of course, when you plan for a window, our target is always to improve the squad, to give better solutions; at this moment, our squad is deeper than last season, but we lost three important players too [Gueye, Zouma and Lookman]. It is not easy to look to the Premier League and see three important players lost.
“18 players left the club this summer. We signed seven. Let’s see what will happen until the end of August. If you look for the money spent and the money that came, in we spent £28 million [net]. I know you like to just look for one way but we have to look for all scenarios.
“We are happy - we always want more - but we are happy.”
Everton’s final summer signing was Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi, who joined the Blues for about £34 million in a deal that was confirmed on Thursday, more than four hours after the window officially shut.
And though the timing was hardly ideal, Silva believes he has added both quality and greater strength in depth to his ranks:
“He [Iwobi] is a quality player; that’s always the most important thing for me. He can play wide and behind the striker also, so he gives us different solutions. He comes to our club to improve our squad and make it deeper.
“The position we are looking to him is coming from the left and behind the striker. He can play on the right also but we are looking from the left and behind the striker.
“He is a strong player and has good skills also. I want him to score more goals. He will help us; he can put good intensity into the match, and he will give different solutions to me. We are happy with [fellow wingers] Richarlison, Bernard and Theo Walcott and he will look to improve.”
The signing of Iwobi came after Everton’s expected move for Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha seemingly fell through, despite the player submitting a transfer request to try and force a deal through.
Silva said the plan was always just to replace Lookman, whose departure to RB Leipzig left Everton short of a winger, but accepted that he and the club had other targets as well as Iwobi:
“Like i said yesterday when we signed Alex, we have our targets, and he was one of our main targets. When u r planning a squad, we plan with some names.
“We tried other players; the market was difficult, of course. When we lost Lookman, we looked for one winger, not two, and we have got a very good player.”
Silva added that he does not know whether to expect Everton to face Zaha in a Palace shirt in tomorrow’s curtain-raiser, either.
But, regardless of whether the Ivorian features for the Eagles, he is still anticipating a difficult first test:
“It’s out of my control. Of course, like you know, it was not just us who were interested in Zaha. He’s a very good player, but he’s Crystal Palace’s player.
“Whether he will play against us or not is for Roy [Hodgson, manager] to decide. It will be a tough, tough game for us, with or without him.”
Despite an otherwise positive transfer window, Everton did not manage to find a central defender to replace the returning Zouma.
And though Silva always knew signing him permanently would be tough, he said he has great trust in the Blues’ three senior centre-halves; Yerry Mina, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate:
“He [Zouma] is no longer our player. It is not best to talk about him. Since he left, we knew it would be difficult, like some of the others we tried.
“We tried to get different players, also. Now we have to look for Mina, Michael and Mason and work with them.
“I never had doubts about Zouma’s quality. We helped him to perform well and it is my job to do the same for them.”
Meanwhile, Silva ruled out the possibility of central midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, who has been linked heavily with a move to Turkey, leaving Everton this month, saying it would leave them too short in that department:
“It’s impossible for Morgan Schneiderlin to leave our club because, if you look at our squad now, we lost Gueye in that position. We have Morgan and we signed Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
“At this moment we have two players for that position. He will be our player until the end,”