Everton’s purchasing model during this summer transfer window has been to bring in wily veterans with plenty of experience and skillful young players with leadership potential, and they have continued to stick to that plan right until the deadline.
The club have now announced the transfer of 21-year-old James Garner on a four-year deal (with a one-year extension option) from Manchester United, who falls into that latter category. The sum is reportedly a very affordable £9m plus £6.5m in add-ons, though there have been some rumours that United have inserted a sell-on clause (said to be around 15%) in there too, but no buy-back.
Garner has only played for the Red Devils first team seven times having made his full debut late in the 2018/19 season and got three starts in the 2019/20 Europa League. An uneventful loan to Watford in the Championship followed in the first half of the 2020/21 season, but it was in his loan spell for the second half of that campaign and then the 2021/22 season at Nottingham Forest where he really took off, helping the Reds gain promotion to the Premier League.
He featured in 49 games last season, scoring four times and picking up ten assists. Garner started off as a #6 in the United setup showing off his playmaking skills with the ball, but in Forest’s 5-2-3 formation he was more of an orchestrator and a box-to-box midfielder. Playing on the left side of midfield as a right-footer, he earned renown for his press-resistance, vision for a pass, and his deadly setpiece-taking abilities.
✍️ | James Garner has signed for the Blues on a four-year deal from Manchester United for an undisclosed fee.@jgarnerr96 #EFC— Everton (@Everton) September 1, 2022
Speaking after joining the club, Garner said -
“I’m made up to sign for Everton. It’s a huge step in my career and I want to help the team get better while progressing as a player,” Garner told evertontv. “I think Everton is the perfect place to do that. I can’t wait to get started.
“The manager [Frank Lampard] has got a real plan for the Club and for me. Working with him on a daily basis is major for me. Him and his staff can take me and the team to the next level. That’s what I’m hoping for.
“I know how passionate Evertonians are. I’m passionate myself and the sort of player who feeds off the crowd. I know what the fans are like so I think I’ll be a good fit.
“I’m a box-to-box midfielder who can play in different roles and can support in defence and attack. I like to support with goals and assists but can do the hard work, too, which is equally important.
“I feel like I can bring real energy to the team - it is something that Everton definitely demands and I can add that in abundance. I have got quality as well so hopefully I can be a big part of us having a good season.”
Manager Frank Lampard added -
“James is a fantastic midfielder with a great all-round game who has qualities we know Evertonians will appreciate. We are really looking forward to working with him and having him add further strength to our squad.”
Speaking about the signing, Director of Football Kevin Thelwell said -
“We are delighted to have brought James to Everton, a player with a broad skillset who adds more quality to our midfield options.
“He is a young, hungry player and we are confident he can be a great addition for many years to come, while getting even better working with Frank and his coaching staff.”
The England Under-21 international is very familiar well-known to Anthony Gordon with the pair having been part of the Three Lions youth set-up for many years. His versatility and ability to play in a number of midfield roles will give Lampard more options as to where to use him, with Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye already having joined the club. Tom Davies has taken the opportunities afforded to him this season to jump ahead of Allan and Andre Gomes, while Alex Iwobi’s rebirth as a central midfielder is one of the stories of 2022.