With the recent signings of Andros Townsend, Demarai Gray and Asmir Begovic, Everton have gotten arguably better in terms of their depth while paying less in wages. The departure of the highest wage earner last season, Bernard Duarte, and with rumors still circulating regarding other players, Everton could look much different under Rafa Benitez than under former boss Carlo Ancelotti.
In the match against Millonarios, Townsend looked sharp out on the wing, whipping balls in as best as he could, while narrowly missing an opportunity to open up his scoring account as a Toffee. He will provide better service from the right wing and will allow James Rodriguez, should he remain with the club, to play in a more central role behind the number nine on days when he himself is not out wide.
Gray, the former Bayer Leverkusen and Leicester City player best known for his presence out wide as well, looked quite able and creative when playing behind the number nine himself in the Florida Cup victory. His goal via the penalty kick in the 64’ was cool under pressure and he showed exactly why he was desired by the new boss. If the 25-year-old can continue to demonstrate this versatility and willingness to learn under Benitez going forward, it is possible that the Toffees and their new boss got an absolute steal for the 25-year-old at only £1.7m in transfer fees.
As for Begovic, the 34-year-old Bosnian veteran who will be playing the part of Robin Olsen this season, played a fine couple of games as well. While he was a stable pair of gloves last season with AFC Bournemouth in the Championship, it appears that he still has a great deal to contribute to the right club. Jordan Pickford has been excellent in calendar year 2021 and with some rest every few matches, his excellent form should continue. Begovic might be an even more impactful move in regards to the development of young, third string goalkeeper, Joao Virginia.
The club has done a good job so far this summer since getting a new manager, yet what does the rest of this summer window hold in store for Everton?
With these three players in and Bernard Duarte out so far, it remains to be seen what the new boss and Marcel Brands get up to in the rest of this summer window. Dutch international and current right back at PSV Eindhoven, 25-year-old Denzel Dumfries, would be an absolutely great and necessary addition. Dumfries is capable of scoring as well as delivering balls into the box, of which his four goals and nine assists last season across all competitions is proof, and is also a thoughtful and useful defender when being attacked by opposition. Seamus Coleman’s advanced age and waning abilities would better suit him to making spot appearances for the Toffees, like Leighton Baines was doing once upon a time not long ago.
The PSV captain has been training separately since last week and has asked to not be in the squad for their Champions League qualifier against FC Midtjylland tomorrow, a sure sign that the player is on his way out, but with Italian champions Inter Milan also in the hunt, that deal is not sealed yet.
Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle United, where Rafa spent a few years not too long ago, has been reportedly of interest to Everton. Whether the 24-year-old Frenchman could be fit into the club without losing Richarlison remains to be seen, yet with the player in any event, the Toffees would have great explosiveness and finishing ability, as well as creativity. With only three goals and four assists across all competitions last year with the disappointing Magpies, one should not necessarily consider such a shock move out of question for Everton, who’ve spent modestly despite the value they’ve acquired so far during the transfer window.
The 21-year-old Dwight McNeil of Burnley is another player linked to a Merseyside move; this one appears more realistic however. While a number of wide players have been linked with the Blues, McNeil is arguably the most versatile of the players on this list with the highest ceiling and could go a long way in filling holes in the squad.
Samuel Chukwueze of Villarreal is a versatile player who can play as a forward winger as well as in a role nearer to a position nearer to the midfield as well; with five goals and eight assists across all competitions last season, should the player be able to regain his form and fitness after injury, the 22-year-old Nigerian would look to improve upon those tally’s with the talent of the Toffees around him. While the Blues are reportedly battling their Merseyside rivals Liverpool for the player, completing the transfer might also liven up Alex Iwobi in the process.
While Iwobi has not lived up to the hype that saw him make the move from north London to Everton, it is not for a lack of talent to be sure. Ancelotti once complained that he needed Iwobi to tell him where he wanted to play, as he had once asked Andrea Pirlo, yet Alex was unable to produce or play with consistency all the same; with a new boss in Benitez, his pragmatic philosophy, and the still hypothetical addition of a Nigerian National Squad teammate, Iwobi might also come alive this year, should he not first be moved on himself of course. His resurgence would be a real coup for the Toffees, and would offer another real scoring and creative option in either a front three, four, or even in more of midfield role. Accentuating the likes of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, as well as potentially Moise Kean, would go so far in creating a truly consistent and scary bunch of Toffees.
Andre Gomes should be moved on so as to free up space for other players who can make a great impact upon the match as well as Fabian Delph to be sure; Cenk Tosun too, if he is healthy enough to continue playing football, should also be moved on as well. Meanwhile, Jean Philippe-Gbamin, should he be able to remain healthy, could really offer Rafa and the Toffees a tough minded, defensive midfielder to help out Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Tom Davies in their hunt for the ball and possession. Another innovation in this realm, as instance for the instance that he hurts himself again, might be smart, yet another creative option would also be wise so as to offer greater diversity of innovation in the creation of offensive opportunities.
While I had long predicted that Kean would be sold under the Ancelotti regime, this new Benitez regime seems amicable and amiable to all players, no matter past differences and the like; keeping him in the fold would be a massive improvement in depth and explosiveness itself, something, in the words of Arsene Wenger, “like a new signing” for Everton.
The transfer window started up slowly for Everton this summer, as it tends to under the direction of Marcel Brands, the three additions of Townsend, Gray and Begovic seem to have been proper, low risk and potentially very rewarding singings. Should Raf be able to rework the club of last season, with the likes of Moise Kean, another high profile player, plus those three figures that have already been acquired, the team could be forceful this season. As more names depart, there is of course, more room and capital for further innovations, and so developments will likely come from those developments as much as from anything else. It will be interesting to see how it all unfurls, as well as how the Toffees participate in the transfers, the signings and the drama that inevitably occurs as teams look to improve themselves, while players look to improve their practical and financial situations.