We continue our review of the past Everton season with the strikers.
Last year at about this time, Everton were in a much different place than they find themselves in today. The team had fought for a top-six position for most of the season, and while it did not finish in a qualifying position for any European competition, there was lots of hope. Carlo Ancelotti would be there another year, and progress would be made, signings too, and this next season would be different.
And indeed, this season was different than the last, but in very unexpected ways. Carlo’s successor lasted only until January of this year, and the next boss of the Blues, Frank Lampard, narrowly steered Everton clear of a relegation sentence. The strikers too, did not perform better this campaign than the prior season, and should both Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison return to Goodison Park for one more season, they will be banking on a better showing individually and from the whole outfit; Salomon Rondon - like Joshua King before him - will likely not be so lucky.
Calvert-Lewin and Richy are Everton heroes to be sure, and while their campaigns were not marvelous, they did have timely goals that kept this team in the Premier League next season; whether they stay at Goodison or decide to depart, they have earned a tremendous amount of respect from Toffees across Merseyside and the world.
Appearances - 18, Goals - 5, Assists - 2, Yellow Cards - 2, Red Cards - 0, PL xG+xA/90 - .45
This season was injury-plagued for Everton’s number nine, and it really hobbled not only him on the pitch, but also the team on the pitch in his absences especially. Toe, hamstring, and groin issues — alongside mental health troubles — took their toll upon DCL, and his numbers reflect that. It also forced Richarlison into a central, number nine-ish role far more often than he would’ve normally played in, which allowed for players like Andros Townsend, Anthony Gordon, and Demarai Gray to step up as well.
While Richy is a good number nine, he brings a different skillset to the position than DCL, and the overall side was weaker and easier to defend against without both of them in the lineup in some manner - usually either a 4-3-3, or a 4-4-2. When Calvert-Lewin was able to play, in either the Premier League or in the FA Cup, he was effective, if less so than last season.
The injuries that crept across this entire team can be blamed for that as well as his own injuries, the changes of leadership across the last year, and the entire team's performance, which was also down from last season. Yet with all of that noted, DCL will be remembered by supporters this season for his famous header against Crystal Palace to lead the Toffees to a 3-2 victory against that side. That is the magic that a healthy DCL can provide Everton - or any team for that matter - with, and much of this season was nicked from the player by injuries and poor team showings.
Appearances - 33, Goals - 11, Assists - 5, Yellow Cards - 8, Red Cards - 0, PL xG+xA/90 - .37
Richarlison was much more available than DCL was this season, and the player was timely for Everton in a way that he hasn’t always seemingly been for this team. There was a time last season when Richy didn’t appear comfortable without Calvert-Lewin out there too, and while there is no doubt that his friend brings confidence to the number seven, the Brazilian was massive all throughout the year. The Brazilian led the club in goals scored and deservedly so.
His bicycle kick goal against Norwich in January, his solo goal against Chelsea to secure the massive, shock victory that kickstarted the fight for survival, the deflected shot that bounced in against Crystal Palace to level the match late in the second half; these were all testaments to his hard work and dedication to his craft and this club. He, like DCL, has many suitors this summer, and they will be looking at these clutch moments and goals - as well as tape from Everton’s much better prior season - as they appraise whether to sign either or both players this summer.
Richarlison gave so much this season, and had the team had a better year, his stats might have been more impressive than they ultimately are. They are, however, not entirely too far off from where they’ve been over the last two seasons; some stability at the boss position would help him, as would greater creativity in the build-up play. With that said, Richy is another massive reason why Everton are still in the Premier League, and he was unflappable in the toughest moments across the entire season.
Appearances - 23, Goals - 3, Assists - 1, Yellow Cards - 2, Red Cards - 1, PL xG+xA/90 - .33
One feels a bit badly for Salomon Rondon in a way. He was signed by a boss who appreciated him and loved him, but that boss got sacked by January of this season. While Rondon is a wildly experienced veteran, he is not an elite number nine, nor is he a young, developing number nine that is still growing into something better than his current version. While Calvert-Lewin was out, whenever Rondon was brought on as the focal point of the attack the Blues immediately looked better with Richarlison going out wide on the left.
There are rumors that he could be headed to Spain this summer - to Real Mallorca in particular - and should that be true, the Blues will not stand in the player’s way very likely. With that being said, Rondon was serviceable this season at points, but would’ve likely been more impressive in the Championship at this point than in the Premier League - perhaps he will shine in La Liga.
He appeared in more matches than Joshua King featured in the previous season for Everton, and yet, given the choice, especially with the form he was in when Everton faced him, keeping Joshua King would’ve been the much wiser move than signing Rondon. Rondon’s three goals and single assist were positive and appreciated contributions, but he will most likely be remembered this season for coming into the Brentford match with the Blues a man down and trailing late, and then getting sent off within five minutes.
Everton will likely not be clamoring to have Rondon on the roster next year, and will look to fill that void with their youth or a young, poised striker and winger to replace either or both DCL and Richy - should they be successfully lured to other clubs around England or Europe. Lewis Dobbin and Ellis Simms surely must get a chance to prove their worth with the first team for this upcoming season. The latter in particular had a good season on loan at Hearts of Midlothian, his seven goals contributing to a third-placed finish in the league, getting to the Scottish FA Cup final and getting into the Europa League qualifiers for next season. Whether the Blues decide to keep him in the first team fold or loan out the 21-year-old again will remain to be seen.
Frank Lampard would, of course, love to have both DCL and Richarlison for another year at least, so as to prove to them that the Toffees’ ambitions are as they seemed just a year ago when Ancelotti was in charge. This is, however, not entirely in his hands, and he will have to see how this summer plays out to really know what type of club he’ll have to use over the course of the entire next year.
Either way, with or without the Blue’s current number seven and number nine, there is likely to be more change in the strikers department this summer than in the previous couple of campaigns. We can expect younger faces to replace Rondon and Cenk Tosun, who has officially left the team, and should DCL and Richy remain, they will, I believe, actually have some help from back to front for the upcoming campaigns.