With football’s return date still unknown amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we took some time to give our thoughts on whether 12 Everton players linked with post-season departures should be kept or moved on.
Not including Cuco Martina, Maarten Stekelenburg or Oumar Niasse, who it is universally agreed will surely leave following the expiry of their deals at the end of 2019-20, this shortlist was comprised of players who have endured tough campaigns, have been linked with moves away, or whose own contract is also up once this season concludes.
In the first of two parts, we looked at five members of the Blues’ back line, including one goalkeeper, three full-backs and a centre-half:
Position: Goalkeeper Age: 24 Contract Expires: June 2024 Reason: Has struggled with consistency for the last two seasons
Pete - Stay. 100 per cent stay. Definitely among the better goalkeepers in league, even if there is still stuff to improve.
Zach - Stay. He’s fine. Not a special keeper, we overpaid for him, but selling him and finding a replacement would be too much of a hassle in a summer with other needs. We’ve got a pretty good back line, the keeper doesn’t have to be a world beater.
Matt A - Stay. Despite some issues this season, Pickford is still a young goalkeeper. He has shown how good he can be and should be afforded the ability to grow with this team.
Matthew C - Go. Not big enough physically for a top goalkeeper, which unfortunately he can’t do a great deal about. Too inconsistent and I dislike his mentality; I get the impression he’d rather be successful with England than with Everton.
Adam - Stay. He’s had a down year, but I don’t suspect there’ll be much better available for a reasonable price on the market. We know the potential is there, so he’s almost assuredly staying.
Calvin - Stay. Everton have issues elsewhere on the pitch to address and he could use some stability and guidance from staying.
Brian L - Stay. Giving up on goalkeepers at such a young age is risky, especially when his troubles are all mental, the part of the game that should get better with age.
Position: Right-back Age: 23 Contract Expires: June 2022 Reason: Spent the season on loan at FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga, failed to establish place in Everton starting XI
Pete - Go. His stock is high right now and if Schalke are happy to pay silly money for him (i.e. £15 million or more), let him go. He’s been doing well in Germany but I can’t imagine he’s improved to the extent where he’d be a top Premier League right-back.
Zach - Stay*. If we can move on from Seamus Coleman (who is less versatile than Djibril Sidibé), I think Kenny has looked good enough in Germany to get Premier League minutes. If we keep Coleman, he needs another loan.
Matt A - Stay. Kenny has performed well on loan and should be given a run with the first team next season. Coleman continues to get older and Sidibé has been hit and miss.
Matthew C - Go. I like Kenny but I don’t think he’ll ever break through as Everton’s first-choice right-back. Would be happy to be proved wrong on this one, though.
Adam - Stay. Right-back is the most complicated position to project next season, because the club has three viable options there if Sidibé stays. Kenny has been a guaranteed starter for the sixth-placed team in the Bundesliga this season, so it’s hard to see him not getting a chance at Everton next season.
Calvin - Loan. Tricky situation with him. He’s doing well and continuing to develop, and my reason for loaning him is explained in Sidibé’s write-up.
Brian L - Stay. Given Kenny’s performances in Germany, along with the squad’s need at right-back, I’d rather see him grow here. He has an opportunity to start and with all the other work to shore up the squad, I’d rather stay homegrown here unless an all-world talent is available.
Position: Right-back Age: 27 Contract Expires: On loan from Monaco until end of season Reason: Loan will expire, option to buy for €14 million but jury remains out
Pete - Go. We need a top right back and he’s no significant improvement on Coleman. No point spending money on players that won’t improve the squad.
Zach - Stay. He’s looked good as a right midfielder, he’s a pretty good right-back. Got to love a player who can fill multiple positions competently. Make the move permanent.
Matt A - Go. Sidibé looked like he may be Everton’s new right-back at times, but on the whole has not impressed. The money that would be used to buy him should go towards more urgent needs.
Matthew C - Go. I like his enthusiasm, but I’d rather have someone who’s 7/10 every week rather than someone like Sidibé, who is 9/10 one game and 3/10 the next. We can do better than him.
Adam - Go. Eight weeks ago, keeping him would have been an easy decision, but his quality has dropped off precipitously in that time. With Kenny returning and Coleman still in the squad, I’m beginning to think Everton might be better off letting him return to Monaco next season.
Calvin - Stay. Whether this is a new loan or a permanent signing, he and Coleman are effective competition for each other until the Irishman slows down further.
Brian L - Go. Sidibé has been inconsistent, but even at his best he’s limiting for where Everton wants to go. Add in Coleman and Kenny, plus Mason Holgate if things go really south, and I’d rather spend his wages elsewhere.
Position: Left-back Age: 35 Contract Expires: June 2020 Reason: Out of contract, just six appearances this season, approaching end of career
Pete - Stay. Never let him leave.
Zach - Stay. He’s looked good under Carlo Ancelotti. He’s great for the dressing room. Good depth.
Matt A - Stay. As far as back-up options go, Everton could do far worse than Baines. He has been excellent in his limited play this season and should be able to retire a Toffee.
Matthew C - Stay. Baines may no longer be in his prime, but has been superb whenever called upon this season. Given Lucas Digne’s struggles and his own good form, he’s deserved more opportunities. He deserves at least another year.
Adam - Stay. Easy decision to keep him around if he’s willing. He’s a capable back-up and quality veteran presence.
Calvin - Stay. Veteran presence and leadership and all that aside, he’s good cover for Digne and one less area to have to address right away.
Brian L - Stay. Baines is a great back-up and can still be serviceable in limited situations. Maybe he’s only got a year or two left, but with Digne at left-back, his replacement can keep for another year.
Position: Centre-back Age: 27 Contract Expires: June 2022 Reason: Formed has dipped terribly from last season, no longer an Everton regular
Pete - If we can recoup a decent chunk of his fee [£25 million], let him go. If not, he’s fine cover in an area we’re short.
Zach - Stay. We have three Premier League-quality centre-backs. Centre-backs are expensive. No reason to add to our shopping list if we don’t have to.
Matt A - Stay. A divisive figure for Everton, he has basically been beaten out for a starting position by Yerry Mina and Holgate, but isn’t a bad option as a third centre-back. The question will be if he wants to stay if he isn’t starting.
Matthew C - Go. Unless we sign Kurt Zouma, the only centre-back Keane has looked comfortable alongside at Everton, which I highly doubt will happen. Too slow and doesn’t smell danger like all good central defenders do. Good attitude but not good enough, unfortunately. I’d rather sign someone else and/or give Lewis Gibson minutes next season.
Adam - Stay. He’s had an up-and-down season, but he’s a reasonable third-choice center-back for a team of Everton’s ambitions. Could the Toffees theoretically upgrade here? Probably, but not at a cost that makes a move worthwhile.
Calvin - Stay. Everton need a new starting-calibre centre-half and Keane is good enough in limited usage; no point creating more problems to solve.
Brian L - Stay. Keane can fill a backup role and I think he still has the ability to perform well. The key is always going to be his centre-back partner and the style of play he’s asked to do.
Which of these five would you keep and get rid of? Let us know in the comments...