Let’s take a look back at how some of Everton’s former players fared this season and break down whether or not the club made the right decision.
Let’s start off with the biggest transfer for the Toffees last summer, Idrissa Gueye. The Senegalese midfielder was sold to French powerhouse Paris St. Germain for about £30 million. He’s played in 34 matches for PSG, scoring once and assisting three times while boasting a pass completion rate of 92 per cent. Defensively, Gana made roughly three tackles and forced about two interceptions a game. After a loss in the Africa Cup of Nations Final in 2019, on Sunday Gueye will get a chance to play in the biggest club game of his career as Paris St. Germain take on winners between Bayern Munich and Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon) who play today.
For me, this is an easy one. If we could have kept Gueye, we should have at all costs. Now, there are other factors like the player wanting the move and having his eyes set elsewhere, which I completely understand, but from a statistical standpoint this is a no-brainer.
Not one Everton midfielder put in a season where they completed anywhere near 90 per cent of their passes and the closest Everton midfielder to Gueye defensively was Morgan Schneiderlin, who averaged about 2.1 tackles and 1.4 interceptions a game. It was obvious this season that the hole left by Gueye was not filled and Everton missed him dearly.
Especially after the loss of Jean-Philippe Gbamin to injury, the team needed a player of Gueye’s skillset to step in and no one was able to do so. If the player didn’t desperately want a move to France, there is no doubt I would have kept him for 2019-20.
After a season of disappointment and what seemed like drama, the Toffees finally let Ademola Lookman go when they received an offer for about £20 million from German side RB Leipzig. The player seemed to want a move away from the club and the club didn’t seem to have a spot for him, for whatever reason, in their first team.
Lookman went on to play in 14 matches for a total of about 400 minutes for Leipzig, failing to score or assist throughout the season. The 22-year old English winger made just one start for the club in 2019-20.
Looking back at this Lookman deal about a year later, it seems to have been the right move. For whatever reason, Lookman couldn’t find consistent minutes here. There were reports of possible attitude issues and wanting away from the club and with the lack of production he provided, there was no reason to keep him.
Even looking at it in hindsight with the noticeable lack of production from the wings this season, it seems like a good decision. There are some very talented outside pieces on RB Leipzig, but Lookman still only got 400 minutes over the 47 matches the German side played this season.
I’m not sure what is wrong with Lookman or why he hasn’t been getting minutes because he seemed to have a ton of potential when he came in, but, in the end, selling him, especially for the fee we received, was a good idea.
After not receiving much playing time during his time at Everton, attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic moved to CSKA Moscow, a club that he played for while on loan from Everton, for a fee of about £10 million. The creative Vlasic scored 13 goals for his club and provided seven assists, including one each in the Europa League.
There is not too much information on Vlasic from last season, so, because I haven’t seen him play too much, it is hard to judge, but I will try. While the Russian League isn’t the best league in the world, Vlasic still made an impression and added to a, typically, very good CSKA Moscow team.
No matter what top league you play in, at 22 years old, 13 goals and seven assists in a season is impressive. The creativity that Vlasic seemingly showed in Russia was something that Everton desperately missed once again this season.
I personally would not have sold Vlasic, not only because of his success this past season, but also because the club really never gave him a chance. He had success for Everton back in 2017-18 in the Europa League and I think, given the chance in a very depleted midfield this year, he could have proven to be a solid piece for the club moving forward.
After failing to play one single minute for Everton, the club sold winger Henry Onyekuru for about £15 million to Ligue 1 side AS Monaco. After making just four appearances for the French side, assisting once, Monaco loaned the young Nigerian to Galatasaray for the remainder of the 2019-20 season in January. There, Onyekuru made 12 appearances, scoring one goal and assisting on 2 others in just over 700 minutes for the club.
Onyekuru was always a difficult situation for Everton. He had shown a lot of potential, but could never get a work permit and it didn’t look like it would happen anytime soon. He has shown that he can be a good player and can produce, but for the amount of production we have seen from him since he joined the Toffees and was loaned out to other clubs, it was never worth it to keep him.
The headache of dealing with the work permit situation was not worth the player that we have seen so far and the club got a decent fee in return for him. In the end, with all the problems off the field in terms of getting him to Merseyside, it was the right decision.
After a long period at Everton, a serious injury, a return from a serious injury and little playing time in his final few years with the club, James McCarthy was sold to Crystal Palace for about £4 million last summer.
The Irish midfielder appeared in 35 matches for the London side and, in typical McCarthy fashion, managed 9 yellow cards in just over 1,600 minutes played. He managed no goals or assists, but, defensively, put in a solid 2.5 tackles a game.
McCarthy is a tough one. The poor guy didn’t get much playing time here in his final few years at the club (and rightfully so), but was always a feisty addition in the midfield. He was always good to go into a challenge a little late and provide a spark of passion, for better or worse, to an Everton team that lacked it a some points.
He was no longer of the quality needed at Everton, but in a midfield that lacked the passion and pace that McCarthy provided, you could make a case for him to stay. If it were up to me, I would have kept McCarthy if Gueye was sold, and sold McCarthy if Gueye stayed. Obviously, the club would have hoped Gbamin didn’t get injured so quickly, but he would have never been able to provide want McCarthy could have.
At 29, he would have offered something different in the midfield and at least would have instilled a spark in the team when they needed it most. For me, I will put him on the keep list, but only with the side note that Gueye was already sold.