Everton are off to a very good start in the 2021/22 season, with three wins and a draw in four games under Rafa Benitez. The team is playing well, looking surprisingly cohesive in attack despite the new manager having only had about two months with some of the players.
The summer transfer window is now closed and the dust has all settled. In all the Blues brought in Asmir Begovic, Demarai Gray, Andy Lonergan, Andros Townsend, and Salomon Rondon for a grand total of £1.5 million.
Meanwhile, the Blues were able to get a significant number of players off the wage bill - Transfers: Bernard (Sharjah FC); Loans: Joao Virginia (Sporting CP), Moise Kean (Juventus) & Niels Nkounkou (Sporting Liege); Released: Beni Baningime (Heart of Midlothian), Muhamed Besic (no club), Yannick Bolasie (Caykur Rizespor), Joshua King (Watford), Matthew Pennington (Shrewsbury) & Theo Walcott (Southampton).
To recap what was ultimately a frustrating deadline day, we collected the thoughts of the writers on the overall transfer window, what they liked, what they didn’t like, a missed opportunity if they felt there was one, and then an overall verdict.
I liked the signings of Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray. A much-needed injection of pace, width and enthusiasm on the wings. Gray in particular could be one of the bargains of the window.
I didn’t like the failure to bring in a right-back. We’ve needed cover for Seamus Coleman for at least three years now. The decision to let Niels Nkounkou leave also leaves us short of numbers on the left.
It’s hard to say as we don’t really know how close Everton were to any of their rumoured targets, but the potential swap deal involving Luis Diaz and James Rodriguez would have solved a lot of the club’s problems and is my missed opportunity.
Overall, Everton’s reckless spending over recent years has finally come home to roost, with this summer seeing a return to Moyes-era austerity and limiting Rafael Benitez’s options in the market. The players brought in have improved the side but gaps in the squad remain, meaning we will need some luck on the injury front between now and the end of the season if they aren’t to be exposed. The good news? The end of this season will see a host of high earners off the books and hopefully next summer can act as something of a reset, putting the transfer mistakes of the recent past well and truly behind us.
I liked there was a clear plan on who to bring in to fit the system Rafa was planning on implementing and it was being done in a cheap and efficient manner.
Letting Neils Nkounkou go on loan was probably the right move, but it left us extremely light at the back and, with the struggles already at RB, I think it was a risk we didn’t need to take and I didn’t like that.
Felt like maybe we missed out on Daniel Jebbison and Nathan Patterson. Even though their clubs may have been difficult, I feel like those were two players we could have gotten in if we pried enough.
Overall, the team got better through the cheap additions of Gray, Townsend and Rondon and the attempts to continue to offload deadwood were encouraging, but it all wasn’t good enough in the end. Coming into the window we had one need, an RB, and we didn’t end up with one. Because of that, this window was a failure for me even with the solid additions we made. You cannot come out of a window without addressing the only definite need the team had all summer.
I liked getting rid of some dead weight and bringing in Gray, Begovic, and Townsend.
I didn’t like getting rid of Kean and bringing in a soon-to-be 32-year-old Rondon.
I’d say all across the board we desperately needed depth, so I think every player we were linked with that ended up signing with a different team would be considered a miss (in a perfect world).
Overall, I think if we’re not just focusing on deadline day, Gray, Begovic, and Townsend were great adds. I believe as much as we needed a backup striker, I’m not the biggest admirer of Rondon, and have never really been a fan of managers reuniting with former players. I’m pretty disappointed, as I believe Everton have once again fumbled the bag in an important summer transfer window—a right-back and some more squad depth would’ve been nice.
Demarai Gray will be a real difference maker for Everton under Rafa Benitez, and so, thanks to price as well, how could one not like that transfer?
Of course it was a shame to lose out on a talent like Luis Diaz, as I think his pace and skill would’ve been really incredible with the players we already have.
With how cheap Patrick Viera and Crystal Palace got Odsonne Edouard for, feels like that was a missed opportunity and could’ve been a direction to go in if the finances were there.
With our financial circumstances, picking up Salomon Rondon, and the aforementioned Gray give the team more attack and danger than before. Andros Townsend offers creativity and leadership while Asimov Begovic still has something left in goal. James Rodriguez staying might, should he remain healthy, end up being so incredibly important to Everton, at least until January.
What I liked - I feel we’ve brought in players that have the right attitude and character rather than big egos.
What I don’t like - I think key areas that we needed to strengthen have not been covered.
A missed opportunity was definitely not getting Ainsley Maitland Niles. A player that could cover 2/3 positions, all of which we need cover for.
Overall, like I said we’ve brought in players with the correct attitude. They are hungry and willing to work hard for the manager.
I liked how we - likely due to necessity - avoided splurging huge sums and big contracts on average players, instead focusing on getting “bang for the buck” in the forms of Gray and Townsend.
I didn’t like how we completely failed to address our glaring weak point - right back - with the knowledge that this failure contributed massively to our balance problems last season.
Missed opportunity for me was failing to convince Arsenal to loan Ainsley Maitland-Niles to us, as he’d have provided cover/competition for both full back positions and midfield.
My assessment is that we failed to get enough “deadwood” off the books - only Bernard, in reality, which helps our overall financial situation, but not quite enough. It is now Rafa’s job to get the best out of a decent squad that lacks depth in certain areas and I have faith in him to do his best, so long as we can avoid injuries to key players (unlike last season). Key for me is reintegrating James Rodriguez into the squad, as he has the quick brain, vision and technical quality otherwise lacking in the team.
After watching him play for three games, it might be cheating to say that I liked the signing of Demarai Grey for 1.7-million pounds, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less true. For a fair take on a positive from the summer window, I’ll go with keeping Richarlison at the club. What I didn’t like was the lack of signings. The summer window wasn’t the most exciting, but maybe this team just needed a low-key couple of months after a frenetic spring. My overall verdict is a B — pretty decent but not spectacular.
I really liked the signings made to start off the summer - all three of Gray, Townsend and Begovic will have big parts to play this season.
I didn’t like that we weren’t able to move out more of the highly-paid guys like James Rodriguez and Andre Gomes.
Not bringing in Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and indeed, any established right backs seems like a pretty big miss for like half a dozen successive transfer windows now.
Overall I think Marcel Brands and the club did well clearing the decks of this bloated ship, and yes there are a few barnacles still attached to it but slowly we’re building a cohesive, scrappy unit under Rafa Benitez that could be in good shape to challenge for a European spot next season. If we do manage to get in, we will also be able to strengthen the squad next summer with the club finances looking much better, and Cenk Tosun, Fabian Delph, James Rodriguez & Gylfi Sigurdsson also coming off the books.
Let’s hear from you below on what you liked about the window, what you didn’t like, a missed opportunity and your overall thoughts on the whole summer transfer window.