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How did Everton’s loan-in players fare?

Reflections on wasted transfer windows as part of the 2021-22 season review

Arsenal v Everton - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Little did we know as the August 2021 transfer deadline crept nearer that Everton would not take any opportunity to bring loan players in before September. When you’re short of ready money that’s usually what happens and even though there’s usually a loan fee and some or all of the wages to pay, the Blues did not secure any deals although they did apparently make some serious enquiries.

As September got under way of course there was some unexpected optimism with the way results had gone so the transfer dealings were quickly forgotten about and let’s face it, Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend were proving to be very shrewd permanent signing bargains.

As we reached January and with manager Rafa Benitez in real trouble and Director of Football Marcel Brands having departed, we eagerly expected transfer business to be done and with empty pockets (or so we thought) loan signings were the obvious route.

Everton v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

What nobody expected and I think we include Benitez, his coaching staff, the fans and, the squad of players was the incoming loan of Anwar El Ghazi. The third winger “signed by Benitez” in spite of the welcome emergence of Anthony Gordon in wide positions too. Rumours that nobody other than Farhad Moshiri were involved in this deal appear to have been borne out by the remaining 4-6 months of the season. Shockingly, having played a few games for Aston Villa earlier in the season, he played just 11 minutes in total as a substitute for the Blues across two Premier League games (9 in one, 2 in the other). His time on the pitch made last season’s bizarre signing, Josh King, look like a regular!

You have to feel really sorry for El Ghazi in all of this. He was clearly not wanted by Benitez, Lampard or even Duncan Ferguson (in his one game in charge). The Dutch international also had a permanent signing option so in fairness to the guy himself he must have been promised a chance. We’re just not sure by who, let’s just speculate that whoever it was doesn’t wear football boots! He’s a fairly good player with some proven top flight experience who will surely take with him the best wishes of those who appreciated the ridiculous position he’s been put into. Good luck Anwar, you’re young enough to get over the experience!

Our next and final piece of loan-in business was of course Donny van de Beek. In much the same way as Anwar El Ghazi will look back at his Everton time as a “non-event”, van de Beek arrived still seething from a failed loan move to Goodison in August and the broken promises around first team opportunities made by Manchester United’s manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Like El Ghazi and Dele who was signed permanently in January he did not arrive without first playing for his “home” club in the FA Cup which did not help his cause at all. It looked good for van de Beek and the club with four consecutive impressive performances before a game of ineligibility disrupted his flow. The two games that followed for him were the wretched team display against Tottenham where Everton lost 5-0 and the home defeat to Wolves where it seemed that he might not be the answer after all. It would be a full two months before Evertonians saw him play for the Blues again for the final time against Arsenal in the last game of the season, a substitute in another crushing 5-1 defeat in north London. Ineligibility and injury cost him (and Everton) badly during his loan spell.

It’s difficult to comment on El Ghazi’s 11 minutes but in some of the games van de Beek played he showed flashes of the player that had enticed Manchester United into buying him from Ajax Amsterdam. He was never played as a #10 which is probably the position that would suit him best in the English league. The goal he did score for Everton in that horrible defeat to Arsenal was straight out of the “Number 10 playing manual”, arriving late, a bit like Lampard the player. Sadly he arrived too late through the doors of Finch Farm to have the prolonged impact he and Evertonians would have craved. Good luck Donny, at least he returns to a manager who knows him well.

In summary, a bit like the rest of Everton’s season, the loan signing department was largely one to forget. Let’s dream of next season, we all need to recuperate!