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Everton WSL: How to Strengthen the Squad Following a Promising Campaign

With top-three aspirations, how will Willie Kirk improve the team this summer?

Manchester United Women v Everton Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League
Jill Scott, center left, returned to Manchester City after her loan expired and will need to be replaced in Everton’s midfield.
Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus/Getty Images

Following the 2020-21 season in which Everton lost eight fixtures against the top four teams — Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United — recruitment this summer will determine whether or not the team can break into the upper echelon of the Women’s Super League. Below is a breakdown of the squad and where the Blues should prioritise transfers this summer ranked on a scale from one to ten, with ten being of greatest need.

Goalkeeper: Sandy MacIver, Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Anna Pedersen - 1/10

Chelsea Women v Everton Women: Vitality Women’s FA Cup 5th Round
Sandy MacIver is Everton’s undisputed number one
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

At 23 years old, MacIver should be Everton’s number one between the sticks for the next decade. She is backed up by the ever-reliable Korpela and Pederson, who is still in her teens and looks to be the long-term replacement once Korpela, 35, retires.

Centre-back: Rikke Sevecke, Megan Finnigan, Gabby George - 3/10

Everton boasts three productive centre-halves, but signing an extra player for added depth wouldn't hurt. The Toffees, though, are set with Sevecke (25), Finnigan (23) and George (24). This is more of a luxury than a need.

Left-back: Danielle Turner, Poppy Pattinson - 1/10

When Turner went down midway through the season, Pattinson served as a worthy understudy to Everton’s long-serving left-sided defender. At 29, Turner is in the middle of her prime, and Pattinson should continue to provide cover at full-back.

Right-back: Molly Pike - 9/10

Aston Villa Women v Bristol City Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League
Pike was loaned to Bristol City last season
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The Blues are thin at right-back following Ingrid Moe Wold’s retirement; replacing the Norwegian defender is high on Kirk’s list. Pike played as a right back for Bristol City this past season while on loan, and Hayley Raso filled in when Wold was injured, but neither is a natural right-back.

Possible Replacement: Leonie Maier

The Toffees have been linked with the former Arsenal defender after she was released by the club this summer. With 78 caps with Germany since her debut in 2013, Maier’s experience at the international and WSL level would be welcomed at Walton Hall.

Defensive Midfield: Lucy Graham, Maéva Clemaron, Abbey-Leigh Stringer - 4/10

Even with Jill Scott returning to Manchester City following the end of her loan spell, the Toffees aren't in dire need of a defensive midfielder. Captain Graham provided five goals and three assists this season, Clemaron is a mainstay in the French national team and Stringer is a respectable third option.

Midfield: Izzy Christiansen - 4/10

With Christiansen back after a stellar first season in which she tied for the team lead in goals (six), Everton’s midfield is in good shape. Another player in her prime, Christiansen heads into 2021-22 fresh off a player of the year award.

Player Linked: Aurora Galli

Christiansen undoubtedly is one of the top midfielders in the division, but the Toffees are set to pick up one of Italy’s most promising talents with the arrival of Galli, 24. A capable player, the Italian has played at the highest level with the national team and Juventus.

Winger: Hayley Raso, Nicoline Sørensen, Claire Emslie - 4/10

Everton Women v Arsenal Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League
Emslie scored three and assisted five for Everton last season
Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

Kirk never found the right combination of wingers. Emslie looked the liveliest of the bunch, scoring three goals and adding five assists, but struggled with injury. Sørensen scored one goal and two assists in her first six matches but cooled off after that. And despite scoring five goals with two assists, Raso never seemed to fully convince the manager.

Player Linked: Kenza Dali

Dali surprisingly was released by West Ham at the end of the season, and Everton have been linked with the Frenchwoman. Able to play on the wing or in the middle, Dali would give the attack a unique dimension and positional flexibility.

Striker: Valérie Gauvin, Simone Magill - 3/10

Between Gauvin and Magill, Kirk’s attacking forces found the back of the net 11 times last year. In her first season with the Toffees, Gauvin — who is well-established within the French national team — scored five goals and had one assist, while Magill netted six times with one assist. The two combined to give Everton the best goal-scoring record outside of the top four.

Player Linked: Toni Duggan

Even with two talented strikers up top, Everton have been connected with Duggan, who spent several years on Merseyside. After time in Spain with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, Duggan is returning home. With Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah leaving the club after 16 seasons and Alisha Lehmann returning to the Hammers after her loan, a third option up top would be prudent.