Everton need further help and reinforcement on the middle of the pitch. This is true whether they play the 4-3-3 or the 3-4-3, and while the Fulham match had moments of what we need going forward, blemishes were also noticeable as well in the loss to Leeds United, our first at home to them in thirty years. With the loss of Lucas Digne to injury, those blemishes might be accentuated still further in the coming weeks, unless Niels Nkounkou or another name can step in and demonstrate mettle or similar qualities as we witnessed earlier the campaign.
The Toffees could look to add another piece to their backline, but I imagine that Don Carlo will likely let his defensive players work out the issues themselves, in house. The midfield will still need attention however, for the offensive game that the Boss wants is still not being executed as consistently or as fluidly as he wishes for it to be.
While Isco remains a candidate, as I’ve spoken about previously, Dominik Szoboszlai has also been all over recent reports as well. They are different players, at different stages of their careers, and with different contributions and qualities; it becomes simply a matter of necessity, capital and opportunity, but with either player, Everton is a better, more dynamic and sharp club. In my own opinion, for the long term interests of the club, unless Isco can be acquired alongside Szoboszlai, the Hungarian should be targeted first and foremost once the winter window opens.
The Case for Dominik Szoboszlai over Isco
While Isco can play an advanced role, which would be very useful to spell Richarlison and give another creative option on the other side of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, he can also play in a deeper midfield position on the left or centrally. These are attractive qualities that Everton could utilized, and could’ve utilized already this season. The Hungarian Szoboszlai however, is a natural and exclusive midfielder; what he contributes in these capacities, while perhaps not as varied as what Isco can, could be over the long term, a more dynamic and effective member of the club. He can play behind an attacker on the left of the midfield, and can also play in a more central, creative position; one can easily imagine him being worked into either an Everton 4-3-3, or 3-4-3 with relative ease. With time and some training, his impact might be sizable for not only the rest of this season, but for many seasons to come under the veteran manager.
And while Isco is nearing his nearing the end of his 20’s, with no future to speak of at his current club, and no statistics or playtime (currently) to speak of at Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane, Szoboszlai is just twenty-years-old today. For an Everton team that has such great youth, the thought of a player so young, with a relatively inexpensive release clause and massive talent, should not be too difficult a proposition to pass up. His stat line through this season so far, while only eight games into the Austrian Bundesliga, has been eye-opening when one takes into account Europe and domestic cup play plus his totals from last season and it becomes obvious that adding him to a team with Richarlison, DCL, Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure certainly appears frightening to most defenses in England.
Nine assists and five goals across fifteen matches across all competitions, from the midfield position he plays in at RB Salzburg, has certainly brought interest from across Europe, as Everton are far from the only club interested in the the young mans services. Mikel Arteta for one, has had his eyes on the player as well, with hopes of bringing him to north London and Arsenal, but it is important for Don Carlo to beat the young Spanish manager and former Everton great to the punch on this occasion.
What Don Carlo can bring to Szoboszlai’s career, alongside the other players they have at the club, is worth considering. Ancelotti is the Professor, as Allan has called him, and while only a few managers have such a moniker, it is significant; it demonstrates not only an ambition to improve, but an understanding of the game in an almost metaphysical sense. And while Arteta could very well demonstrate himself as one of these transcendent managers, he is well on his way, he is not necessarily there yet. Such a young player as the Hungarian international needs the fatherly education of the Professor at Finch Farm and Goodison Park.
A Midfield Solution for Years to Come on Merseyside
Isco is a player who could come in an plug some holes that the team needs filled with pure talent and creativity to be sure, but it is unclear how long his shelf life on Merseyside would/will be. If he can be gotten on the cheap, he is worth getting alongside Dominic Szoboszlai because the young Hungarian midfielder has all the potential to be a Merseyside Maestro for years to come. And the club will certainly need one, with pieces like Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Alex Iwobi and young names coming up through the youth ranks; at only twenty, an acquisition like the Hungarian can pay dividends for years, with just a ton of different players from those we love today, to those we are yet to have even heard about.
And while Isco knows the system well and could help the rest of the team become more fluid with what the boss wants, Szoboszlai will be a quick study with or without Isco. He is aa natural footballer and someone who can see the lanes and moves before they happen; he is a real magician in other words. This creativity, this ambition and volition, are all notions that Everton sometimes lack unless one of their super starts steps up to demonstrate it themselves, but the club needs more and the Hungarian would be perfect.
Will Marcel Brands and Don Carlo pull the trigger on either he, Isco, or still someone else? It remains to be seen of course, but after Leeds United, with Burnley just around the corner, we will get to see another demonstration of exactly who Everton are, and how they continue to grow as the season continues onward.