With the news that Marcel Brands has signed a new three-year contract with Everton to stay on as Director of Football, we thought it was a good time to go back and look at all the players he has brought in during his tenure with the Toffees.
Here are the grades, based primarily on the impact they’ve made at Everton along with other factors such as how they’ve fit in, how much they embody the spirit of the club and potential as well.
Jean-Philippe Gbamin - On the face of it, this is an excellent signing. Based on Everton’s need at the time with the departure of Idrissa Gueye and how soft the Blues are in the middle, a dynamic and powerful player like Gbamin has shown he can be is exactly what we needed. What no one foresaw was the series of unfortunate events that have befallen the midfielder since he joined.
Joshua King - Again, looks like the right player for what we need, a forward who can play across the front line, but simply hasn’t played enough. Does Carlo Ancelotti simply not trust him?
Niels Nkounkou - This one might be unfair on Brands because almost all expectation that has been heaped on this young player’s shoulders has come from the fans, not necessarily Brands or Ancelotti. After a few early-season appearances in the League Cup, he is yet to get any first team minutes in competitive games and looks like he is not quite ready yet. Luckily Ben Godfrey’s versatility has meant we don’t really need Nkounkou to play right now.
Fabian Delph - A versatile, experienced midfielder that can play at left back as well, and will bring leadership into the dressing room? Sounds great doesn’t it? However, the truth is that we’ve barely seen Delph play due to injuries and when he has played, he’s only made a very slow midfield plod along at an even more glacial pace. He was relatively cheap and that keeps this from being a ‘Fail’ grade.
Jonas Lossl - There is no doubt at this point that Jordan Pickford needs competition to keep him on his toes. Brands and Marco Silva might have identified this a long time ago, but bringing in Lossl did not have the desired effect, and the Dane could not be trusted to keep goal for the Blues.
Bernard - The Brazilian was a much-valued player when he let his Shakhtar Donetsk contract run down to become a free agent. However, he has been plagued by inconsistency, and just hasn’t been able to adapt to the physical requirements of the task at hand, often get barged out of the way by stronger opposition. Still capable of magic occasionally, like against Spurs in the FA Cup.
Alex Iwobi - Identifying a squad’s weakness and who can remedy it is half the issue. Bringing those players in and getting the best out of them is another challenge altogether. Iwobi is just one of a handful of players who appear to have the right skillset to solve Everton’s needs, but his consistency has just not been there and any time he sees the pitch, we are as likely to see the player that will jink through packed defences as we are to see him disappear on the sideline for 60 minutes before Ancelotti puts him out of his misery.
Moise Kean - The youngster might still change his mind and come back to Everton a more determined player that can be relied on, but that looks more and more unlikely by the day. He simply did not fit in at Everton it appears, despite Brands and Co. going to great lengths to assure the youngster’s family that he would be taken care of here. He is likely to command an excellent sell-on fee though, and that definitely should make up for it.
Andre Gomes - This might be a contentious grade and if it was possible to give it a C+, I would go with that. Another player who is capable of the sublime and the silly, all in a matter of minutes. The Portuguese player was handed the keys to the midfield but has been unable to make himself the cog the team needs to revolve around, and were it not for injuries this season he would have quickly become a squad player at Everton.
Djibril Sidibe (loan) - Another C+ grade here. Seamus Coleman desperately needed a solid back-up last season and Sidibe was brought in to provide the Blues with more of an attacking thrust on the right to match his countryman Lucas Digne. However, defensively the AS Monaco was an absolute liability and it was really no surprise that the Blues did not exercise the buy option in his loan deal, even if it was reasonably priced.
Robin Olsen (loan) - If Everton really wanted to replace Jordan Pickford’s minutes then getting a starting calibre goalie would have made much more sense. However, Olsen has done reasonably well for someone who had been relegated to fourth in the pecking order at AS Roma and suddenly is playing a lot more minutes than anyone would have expected.
Kurt Zouma (loan) - His spell at Everton revitalized the defender’s career, and got him back into the squad for the World Cup holders. Chelsea were not interested in selling him to Everton and the Toffees moved on.
Jarrad Branthwaite - A rare January signing that Brands made, the young defender was thrust into the limelight late last season and acquitted himself very well in that short time. Still looks like a very bright prospect out on loan at Blackburn Rovers, and a smart piece of business for the Blues.
Richarlison - The first signing of the Silva era was more due to the fatherly relationship the manager had with the player, but it’s clear to everyone that the Brazilian forward is destined for greatness. Still has some minor issues to work out in his game, but Richarlison is (will become?) a world-beater that Everton are very glad to have.
Yerry Mina - Some may contend that Mina is not as good a defender as he should be, but the fact of the matter is that he’s been very good at times, is a key part of the backline and will continue to be under Ancelotti.
Lucas Digne - An unmitigated success. Evertonians would not have expected that the Barcelona-reject would quickly become one of the best players at his position in the entire league, but he has done exactly that and is an indispensable part of the Blues’ attacking thrust, supplying assist after assist with metronomic efficiency.
Ben Godfrey - Another player who was quickly become a fan-favourite. Godfrey’s versatility and tenacity has to make you wonder why more Premier League teams weren’t beating down Norwich City’s doors over the summer.
James Rodriguez - Bringing in the World Cup Golden Boot winner on a free transfer?! What more do you want from a Director of Football? Admittedly Ancelotti might have had a lot to do with this purchase, but it remains a feather in Brands’ cap.
Allan - Having the Brazilian line up in front of the defence early this season quickly reminded us how badly we have missed a player of Gana’s ilk. His spell out on the sidelines with injury has once again made us recall how different a team we can be when we have a midfielder of Allan’s quality running things in the middle of the park.
Abdoulaye Doucoure - The box-to-box midfielder’s energy levels are astounding. Everton have been pursuing him for some time and his performances this season have completely justified why he was worth every penny of his transfer fee.