clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Everton 2022/23 Season Preview: Centre-Backs

A shaky position at best last season, could this become a strength this campaign?

Everton on Pre-Season Tour in the USA Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images


Stats: Everton 2021/22 Central Defenders

Player Games Goals Assists Yellow Cards Red Cards Minutes
Player Games Goals Assists Yellow Cards Red Cards Minutes
Michael Keane 38 3 2 2 1 3,311'
Ben Godfrey 27 0 0 7 0 2,375'
Mason Holgate 29 3 1 7 1 2,524'
Yerry Mina 14 1 0 3 0 923'
Jarrad Branthwaite 8 1 0 0 1 534'


Under Frank Lampard Everton lined up in a back three more often than not late last season as the team looked to scrap and fight their way out of trouble. The manager has indicated he would prefer to play a back four in the long-term but may stick with three for now as he focuses on rebuilding the team elsewhere, especially since the Blues still lack a true defensive midfielder to shield the defence.

Current Players

Ben Godfrey

It was a difficult second season last time out for Ben Godfrey, though it would be unfair to criticise him too much. The former Norwich centre-back contracted Covid-19 on the eve of the season and upon his return was visibly struggling for fitness, appearing at times to be breathless on the pitch. That combined with the team’s nosediving form proved an unhappy combination, though he showed signs of his best form towards the end of the campaign. With a proper rest and full pre-season behind him we should start to see a return to the type of form that earned him a call-up to the full England squad at the end of his first campaign in royal blue.

Michael Keane

Michael Keane is rumoured to be another player the club could sell for the right price - but whether such an offer would come in is another question.

Like Holgate Keane has not really progressed in an Everton shirt, with the same strengths and weaknesses after five years in royal blue. He struggles when playing a high line (remember that 5-0 defeat at Tottenham in March when it could have been 10?) but looks more comfortable doing the dirty work inside his own penalty area, with his display in the 1-0 win over Manchester United one of his more notable performances. He also tends to perform better when alongside a vocal, domineering defensive partner. I suspect he will remain at Goodison beyond this window but may move on in the coming years.

Everton v Brentford: The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Mason Holgate

Mason Holgate has never lacked confidence, but his failure to convert his obvious ability into consistent performances has infuriated Evertonians for several years now. There is certainly a player in there but at nearly 26 he needs to start showing it on a regular basis. Links with West Ham have been greeted enthusiastically by a significant section of Toffees fans who have placed the former Barnsley man high on their list of sellable assets.

Yerry Mina

Everton perform considerably better when Yerry Mina plays but the Colombian just cannot seem to keep himself fit. He has everything required to be a top centre-half as well as an infectious character that carries other players along with him. Sadly the sight of him on the ground having picked up some form of muscle injury is all too familiar, especially last season. As one of the club’s highest earners Everton are right to listen to offers this summer. But with just 12 months left on his deal this has got lucrative Bosnian free transfer written all over it. Hardly ideal given Everton’s perilous finances, but if he can keep himself fit for at least 25 games then that would ease the sting of losing him for nothing.

Everton v Dynamo Kyiv - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

James Tarkowski

One of the most under-rated signings of the summer, I don’t think it will take James Tarkowski long to earn the affections of the Goodison faithful. He is the kind of domineering, no nonsense centre-back (who can stay fit) we have been crying out for. But Tarkowski is no clogger either, he is comfortable on the ball and at dribbling out from the back, which we saw much more during his time at Brentford then at Burnley. His leadership should hopefully rub off on his defensive team-mates who often look lost when things go against them. An astute signing who instantly improves the team.

State of the Position

Let’s face it, Everton’s squad is a bit of a mess, but central defence is one of the few positions where they have a bit of depth. Godfrey, Mina and Tarkowski will likely be first choice, but Keane deputising when Mina inevitable picks up an injury while Holgate’s versatility should mean he gets plenty of minutes.

The rumours linking the Blues with Wolves’ Conor Coady are certainly interesting because the Blues are unlikely to carry six centrehalves into the season. I think Lampard would be willing to sell Keane, Holgate and Mina for the right price, but with so much surgery needed on the squad elsewhere and resources extremely tight, a defensive rebuild is a job for the longer term.