As the scheduling has become compressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated fallout, there is less time than usual to work the summer transfer window; consequently, there is less time to work these players into one’s system and scheme once they’ve been acquired. And yet, Carlo Ancelotti has absolutely got to figure out both his backline and midfield before too many games have slipped by - the English Premier League returns in less than three weeks after all.
So who will replace Gylfi Sigurdsson in the middle of the pitch as playmaker? Who will provide central organization and positive play along with service from open play for the young forward talent available on the attack? With Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin continuing to demonstrate wonderful acumen in front of the net, and other young players quickly developing, a proper maestro to orchestrate their runs and grow the teams production in general remains imperative moving forward.
Allan of Napoli? James Rodriguez of Real Madrid? Jack Grealish of Aston Villa?
Or someone else entirely?
While the first two have been heavily linked to a potential Everton move, the third is perhaps a personal wish. All three provide creativity, insight, inspiration and a wonderfully high footballing IQ; apart from the fee each might cost, each is in a distinctly different part of their career and Everton must decide which fits with their current and future club best.
While Allan is the oldest by just months, he does have experience alongside Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli; the Brazilian understands the concepts that Ancelotti plays with and so can be integrated quickly into the outfit. While he’s nearly 30-years-old, he will also be the cheapest option out of the three for Marcel Brands and Carlo Ancelotti; depending on their defensive and wing plans and options, the finances could play a major part in the decision for any midfielder, but with Allan dead set on coming to Merseyside, it has seemed quite likely from all angles for months.
James Rodriguez of Real Madrid, who is only months younger than Allan, seemed to be more costly than the Brazilian according to initial reports; recently however, Real has cut their demands by more than half and the Blues have made a serious approach. While he is also very familiar with Carlo Ancelotti from their time together at Real and Bayern Munich, his career feels at a different place than Allan’s. Somewhat disappointing stints in Madrid and Munich have left the player needing to make a massive splash at his next destination; Everton and the Premier League could certainly be that place for him. Meanwhile, with his ability to play outside and inside, he could add attacking flair on the outside or control the game from the middle of the pitch. But the most expensive option could be the best long term option as well.
Jack Grealish of Aston Villa has been admired by everyone in the Premier League this campaign; his magnificent strike in the final match of the season might very well have saved Villa from relegation, while making his exit much more difficult. Since Villa are remaining in the top flight, they are duly asking for a steeper price for their superstar; while the likes of Manchester United have so far proven recalcitrant to pay such a massive fee, Everton might be able to offer a replacement in Gylfi Sigurdsson alongside much needed capital. While it may be a long shot, stranger things have happened and the positive consequences of such a move are obvious.
The 26-year-old would have a better opportunity to grow and develop with the rest of Everton’s young team; alongside the likes of Alex Iwobi, a developing Moise Kean, Richarlison, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton start to look a scarier proposition for opponents this campaign. Should Everton be able to shore up their backline and wide options as well, any of the aforementioned players will likely make a noticeable impact on team organization and execution; but who seems most likely?
James Rodriguez and Everton: Redemption together?
For me, Allan has seemed most likely given his relationship with Carlo Ancelotti for the entirety of this process, in terms where he is in his career, and the estimated cost to acquire him; however, things have developed differently in recent days.
James Rodriguez appears remarkably close to joining back up with his old boss; should Rodriguez be able to stay healthy and in proper form, he is able to offer Everton greater versatility between midfield and wing positions, with an abundance of creativity to boost the Toffees young weaponry. In this setting under the trusted eye of Carlo Ancelotti, he could look to rejuvenate his career to the benefit of everyone at Goodison Park; cautious optimism should be applied certainly.
With news of Rodriguez’s slashed fee, reportedly as low as £7.7 million, and this desire for a fresh start with Premier League football, Everton are reported as the surest choice for him at this hour. If he really is available for Everton at that price, they would be silly not to sign him; at that price, one might even dream of acquiring both Allan and Rodriguez, remaking the midfield mindset of the Toffees entirely.
Meanwhile, the number for Jack Grealish, regardless of Everton’s other transfer desires, is simply too much for the Toffees as currently constituted; for more cost effective purposes, other names to keep an eye out for remain former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mario Gotze, as well as Jonathan Ikone of Lille. Until the transfer trigger is pulled in one way or another however, we will all continue to speculate; for Carlo Ancelotti to revamp the Toffees properly, he will need players he can trust to implement his system best, to orchestrate in the middle of the field as the Maestro of Goodison Park. With August passing, and only three weeks until the Premier League begins fresh, there is little time to waste!