With the summer transfer window closed, Everton find themselves the number one team on the Premier League table. As the first international break is upon us, it is a time to reflect on what was done over the course of the window, as well as what these moves team for some of the most crucial actors on Merseyside; Dominic Calvert-Lewin, brimming with confidence and ability right now for both club and country, as well as Richarlison de Andrade.
They have both been in wonderful form to begin the season and one of the final moves the Toffees agreed to, the Moise Kean-PSG loan, is certainly a statement of trust in both the aforementioned players, as well as their supporting cast both new and old. The number nine and seven will be the central strikers for at least the beginning of the campaign; whether that lasts I believe, is a matter of the team’s performance entering the winter window however.
Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison: Two Talents Worth Believing in
It is a testament to Carlo Ancelotti that, no matter his time in the game, as both player and manager, he has never lost sight of the passion that creates great football and great football players. While he is a brilliant tactician, as nicknames like, “The Professor’ surely illustrate, what stands out to me is the belief that he has instilled in the players; his belief in them, as much as his tactical genius, inspires the players to be as incredible as they can be, and the blooming talents of both DCL and Richarlison are obvious examples.
The returns of both players to this point in the campaign are exciting, with the Sheffield born Calvert-Lewin scoring nine goals through six matches across competitions. Meanwhile, the Brazilian has four tally’s, with an additional two assists across all competitions in as many games. They are a massive reason why Everton are playing such breathtaking football, and a sure reason why Toffees around the world can be truly hopeful for the first time as a Merseyside Derby approaches in quite some time.
They will be sharing the role of central striker, with Richarlison slotting over from his starting position on the left wing to spell DCL when he needs rest. This innovation is truly only possible however, because of the play of Alex Iwobi; with the growth he has displayed over the young season, he likely spared Everton feeling themselves obligated to purchase another winger like Hirving Lozano, Thomas Lemar or even Everton. Anthony Gordon too impressed when given the chance, while Bernard Duarte remains in the squad also.
The whole team has been impressive; the newcomers like James Rodriguez and Allan have been masterful in fulfilling the desires of the boss and obligations to the team. Abdoulaye Doucoure too has been fantastic in the middle of the pitch and together, these players have fortified both the defense and offense, while creating remarkable opportunities for the two dangerous offensive centerpieces.
In other words, the boss has put his trust firmly in the young Toffees to lead the team this season and for seasons moving forward. He has built around in them, in a short period of time, players and a system that can accentuate their ability and passion, using the tactical understanding of a legendary manager. It is quite the privilege and responsibility for each player, and yet, it is a sign of both what they’ve accomplished, as well as the potential still left to be fully tapped by them both.
Ancelotti’s somewhat-amorphous 4-3-3 appears to become more of a 4-4-2 with the two forwards both upfront and James Rodriguez sliding into the middle onto his favored left foot, another sign of how Ancelotti has modified his team to play to its strengths.
They will need to continue performing at near the level they’ve shown earlier for Everton to remain viable as a top four club entering January, but it is not either impossible nor unreasonable. How their potential, as well as the success of the club, unfolds, will likely determine what business is done during the winter window and with what intentions.
Reinforcements could arrive in the New Year if needed
While the final moves of the summer window constituted by Marcel Brands included the purchase of Ben Godfrey and loan in of Robin Olsen, as well as the loan out of both Theo Walcott and Moise Kean, one can expect to hear mention of many of the names from the transfer window rumor mill the closer we come to January; that is, should the team be able to keep up something close to its current rate of success. And with the innovation of simply using Richarlison as a winger or a central striker behind DCL, it brings to mind the question of just how a successful Everton might reinforce that particular situation.
While rumors of three players, Hirving Lozano, Arkadiusz Milik and Thomas Lemar are definitely most intriguing to me, they constitute different approaches to strengthening the resolve at Goodison Park. Lozano can play across the top three of most shapes and so, would likely be the wisest purchase for securing the offensive side with as much versatility as possible. Milik and Lemar however, are more specialistic in their football; one either gets a striker, albeit a bit older, with many of the same qualities as the English striker himself, or a left winger, who can create and score when put in the right environment and given the proper trust and care.
I think that, given the choice, the ability likely and need becomes a major determining factor to this question, as well as its resolution. With the versatility that Lozano possesses, as well as his history with the boss, he would likely be the prime target for a winter switch should Genaro Gattuso lose interest in the Mexican international once again.
From there, Milik becomes the second choice for me, as his acquisition would then allow for Richarlison to reclaim more consistently his left side from Alex Iwobi. Thus, the best Toffees can always be on the pitch at what might consider their most natural positions as often as possible. Thomas Lemar therefore, would be third on my list for offensive winter additions simply because of the depth on the left side relative to central depth; while he is a wonderful player in need of a fresh start, being exclusively a left winger leaves him fighting for play behind Richarlison, alongside Alex Iwobi.
Yet this is lots of prognosis, for if Everton cannot weather the upcoming months of play, there will be less of a position to reinforce of course. While the Derby against Liverpool at Goodison Park offers the greatest challenge of the young Toffee season as the first international break ends, matches against Southampton and Newcastle, both away follow in the successive weeks. Then, before the second international break, Manchester United come to town for another obvious challenge, despite their early season struggles.
After the second international break, games against Fulham, Leeds United, Burnley, Chelsea, Leicester City, Arsenal, Manchester United (in the EFL Quarter-Finals), Sheffield United, and finally, Manchester City round out the schedule for the calendar year. These ten matches in five weeks is an absolute mad gauntlet to have to run, but luckily they are not alone of course; Everton will have to show some real composure and quality across the squad to survive as a top team going into January and a date against West Ham at Goodison Park to bring in the New Year.
If they can survive however, they’ll likely have reinforcements to look forward to, as well as a confidence that will be without compare. Between the wonderful talent of the players they possessed, the legendary manager who has preened them for almost a year, and the talent he and Marcel Brands have brought to the north of England, the reinvigoration at Finch farm and Goodison Park looks to be in full motion. While it is a group effort, the talent and production of players like the young Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are pushing this team to ever greater heights as their boss, Don Carlo, cultivates the effort with the team he has grown around them. Oh, how the future does indeed look bright for Everton.