UPDATE: As of 6p BT it looks like McNeil is already on Merseyside undergoing a medical, per The Athletic.
Everton are set to complete Dwight McNeil deal. Full agreement with Burnley, fee could reach £19/20m add-ons included - Lampard trusts him as good talent for present and future. #EFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 27, 2022
Medical ongoing, McNeil will follow Vinagre as new Everton signing very soon. pic.twitter.com/EytS5SpfAI
Everton have been linked on and off with Dwight McNeil for a couple of years now, so you shouldn’t be really surprised by the Blues links with the Burnley winger. What is surprising though is that after weeks of speculation that the Toffees would come in with a bid for the versatile Maxwel Cornet, it’s McNeil also being mentioned now.
The Telegraph among other sources (El Bobble) confirmed today that Everton are in talks with the Clarets for the 22-year-old winger who has featured in 147 games for Burnley over his young career.
However, other sources close to Burnley (Fraser Fletcher, Jonny Bentley) seem to indicate that the Blues are still interested in Cornet as well with newly-promoted Nottingham Forest and Fulham as well as one other unnamed team also looking at the Ivorian international.
The talks for Cornet seemed to have stalled on the premise of payment with the Blues unable to come up with the £18 million for his release clause upfront and having asked for payment in instalments, which Burnley have balked against. However, the valuation for McNeil is also in the £15-20m range, and it’s difficult to see how the Blues can afford that without more outgoing activity first.
Cornet’s scouting report showed him as a good fit for the Toffees, but McNeil is a slightly different player in that he is an out-and-out winger that had a hard time fitting into Sean Dyche’s ultra-defensive system. His workrate is solid and ability on the ball is undoubted, but it was concerning that he fell away last season for the Clarets once Cornet was signed and was unable to make much of an impression from the right wing.
A look at this May 2020 scouting report by Breaking the Lines will give more insight into why Everton are targeting McNeil. (We recommend reading the full report to get a good overall picture on the youngster)
One of his standout qualities is his crossing ability. Crossing is a prominent feature of the modern game, with Liverpool’s fullbacks having completed a combined 450 crosses. McNeil is an excellent crosser, hitting 4.59 crosses per 90 with a 31.16% success rate. In terms of his technique, he gets a good flight on the ball to ensure that it reaches its location.
Another impressive aspect of his technique is the topspin that he creates. This ensures that the ball travels quickly in the air while also creating a dip so it can surpass the defender, but then drop down to the path of the attacker. The 20-year-old hits the ball with the necessary precision so it can reach the defender and create a goalscoring opportunity.
Everton’s squad depth for wingers is Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon backed up by Alex Iwobi and Andros Townsend. Unless the Blues are thinking Townsend’s recovery from his knee injury and subsequent surgery could take longer than expected, adding two wingers is certainly surprising. A plus with bringing Cornet in though is that he is quite capable of playing a striker, which would be a boon with Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s injury issues and Salomon Rondon not exactly making the most of his opportunities up front.
Another viewpoint on this is the new rule allowing five substitutions in league games this coming season. The Blues would certainly need a deeper squad for Lampard to take advantage of the change in regulations, allowing him greater flexibility with squad selections and tactics.
More to come on this it looks like.