If one thing could be determined from the culmination of Everton’s disastrous 2021-22 campaign, it is that the squad had, by then, been reduced to a seriously uncompetitive state. The club had run up against the unyielding wall of the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability regulations during the previous season when the tap funding transfers had abruptly been switched off, leading to the Blues running a net €6.5m profit on player trading. Thin on talent and depth, the side’s performance levels dipped alarmingly.
Last summer, the Toffees spent more, in an attempt to rebuild areas of the team, enabled by recouping a huge fee for the sale of star performer Richarlison to Tottenham Hotspur. Rumours of the club being only able to pay in instalments, with small upfront fees, for the likes of Dwight McNeil and Amadou Onana hinted at cash flow problems, on top of the ongoing accounts issues with the league. Another large sum (€45m reportedly) was banked for the sale of Anthony Gordon to Newcastle at the end of January, but still Everton were unable - or unwilling - to make any signings during the winter transfer window.
More than three weeks have elapsed since the Blues secured their status in the top flight and (at time of writing) the new season kicks off in less than eight more weeks. Everton appear to be in a holding pattern in terms of actioning any moves for players, with a deal to sell a rumoured 25% stake in the club to US investors MSP Sports Capital no closer to fruition. Seemingly, funding for new signings will be dependent - possibly entirely - on what can be raised from sales and whatever is allocated for this purpose from the new investors.
Whilst the latter option is moot until further information is made public, I here take a look at players in the squad that will (or should, in my opinion) be available for sale this summer, in addition to those that the club may wish to hold onto, but who could be targeted by rivals.
Everton and England’s starting goalkeeper signed an extension in February, protecting the player as an club asset. Last season, he allowed less shots past him (57) than would be indicated by the quality of chances faced, as determined by a PSxG (Post-Shot Expected Goals) of 60, also increasing his save percentage from 66.5 to 71.3. Now 29, Pickford was pivotal to the team’s survival efforts, stepping up on several occasions to make the difference. As the Three Lions’ number one, he is a high profile player and understandably in demand, as firm links to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur prove.
Pickford is reportedly happy to stay on Merseyside, but would surely be tempted should an offer from the Red Devils, who can offer Champions League football and a substantial pay hike, manifest. For the Blues brain trust, this summer could present a last opportunity to obtain a large fee for the stopper, which could prove highly useful in rebuilding the squad, if an affordable replacement is identified. His amortised value right now is around €11.4m, so a sale would represent a substantial boost both for the club’s accounts and in cash terms.
Verdict: sell (reluctantly)
A first team regular over the previous three seasons, during each of which he exceeded 2,000 league minutes and at least 23 starts, last term the defender saw his contribution shrink. Just 507 minutes in the Premier League and eight appearances (five starts) hinted heavily that the the 26-year-old’s days at Everton are numbered. Tellingly, since Dyche arrived Holgate has not been used in his favoured centre back position, but he’s played poorly in both full back spots and as an auxiliary defensive midfielder.
Amazingly, it is almost eight years since the player joined the Blues from Barnsley and although he’s occasionally shown some promise, it’s been some time since that claim could be made. Lacking desirable size for a centre half, prone to lapses in concentration and possessing a tendency to play far too many aimless long passes, Holgate’s time is up. Signed a long time ago for a nominal fee, any fee for the defender would show as an accounting profit.
Even more so than Holgate, Keane saw his time diminish hugely last term. He’s been an ever-present in the lineup since arriving six years ago and had started at least 28 league matches each campaign, but managed only ten in 2022-23 - all under Dyche, his former mentor at Burnley. The centre half appeared on his way out of Everton during Frank Lampard’s stint in charge, but was predictably recalled into the starting eleven by his old boss, before being benched again for the last four matches of the season.
The 30-year-old’s strengths and weaknesses are well-established by now and his future at the Toffees largely depends on whether Dyche still maintains faith in him. If he does, then Keane will be playing for Everton again for another term; if not then the sensible move will be to find a suitor for the defender. Keane’s amortised value is approximately €7.1m, which the Toffees would probably be able to clear should a sale be achieved.
The excitement generated by Godfrey’s debut season at the club, following a €27.5m move from Norwich City three years ago has long since dissipated; the electric pace is less evident, the crunching tackles more infrequent. Injuries and illness appear to have robbed the 25-year-old of much of his athleticism and aggression. What we are left with is a somewhat undersized central defender whose versality extends to playing very poorly at full back, where a lack of attacking instincts and weak positional sense has been exposed time and again.
Godfrey has two years left on his contract, putting his amortized cost at around €11m, which means that if Everton can generate a fee in excess of that for him then this will show as a profit in the accounts. He will not play central defence for Dyche and is effectively useless when deployed elsewhere, so the time has come for the Blues to cash in on a player who is still on paper a reasonably attractive option for other clubs.
Signed four years ago, during the Marco Silva era, the Ivorian never got going, being hammered by serious injuries soon after arriving at Everton. The midfielder has played only eight times for the club and last took to the pitch in a Royal Blue shirt in a competitive match back in January 2022, a substitute appearance against Hull City in the FA Cup. Since then he’s spent a half season on loan at CSKA Moscow and last season at Trabzonspor, in the Turkish league. The player still costs the club €5m as an amortised asset and it is unlikely that any fee received for his services would reach that level, so it is almost certain that the 27-year-old will see out his final contract year on loan.
Verdict: sell (probable loan)
Also arriving during the summer of 2019, on a permanent €25m transfer from Barcelona following a productive loan spell, Gomes is another with one foot out of the door at Everton. Never quite the same after suffering a horrific ankle in November 2019, the classy midfielder found the Premier League a bit too quick for him upon his return after five months out. He was surplus to requirements last summer and left for a season-long loan at Lille, where he showed some of his old ability, but the midfielder’s estimated €130k weekly salary will be a major obstacle to securing a permanent move.
Like Gbamin, the Portuguese’s amortised value is €5m, which should be obtainable, should Gomes be willing to take a sizeable pay cut in return for a longer contract than the 12 months he has left at Everton.
On paper, the former England player cost the Blues nada, arriving from Spurs on a convoluted deal of staggered appearance-based payments that only made sense if the player was a resounding success at his new club; it’s fair to say that has not been the case. Should Everton manage to sell the midfielder, it is believed his old club would receive a chunk of the resulting fee, but realistically - given Dele’s bloated salary and low level of performance - this is not going to happen. An underwhelming loan spell at Besiktas last season, ended prematurely by injury in March, did little to drum up interest in him.
Although it is thought that Dyche fancies his chances to turn the former star around, this seems an unlikely combination of taskmaster manager and relaxed player, so appears to be a long shot. Everton will pay Spurs £10m should Dele play another handful of games for the Blues and given the club’s parlous financial condition, this would present a substantial risk, one that I don’t see happening.
Verdict: sell (probable loan)
Everton’s big-money acquisition from Lille last summer experienced an up-and-down campaign, one in which he demonstrated a high ceiling, though also that he wasn’t anything close to being the finished article. Whether the 21-year-old ends up as a holding player, or a box-to-box midfielder is hard to evaluate at this stage, but his profile and potential has certainly attracted more than admiring glances from teams used to operating in the higher reaches of the Premier League.
The Belgian youngster is ambitious and would certainly be amenable to a quick departure from the Blues, should interest firm up. As a recent arrival, with an amortised value of €28m and a rumoured sell-on fee owed to his former club, a sale of Onana, even for a substantial fee wouldn’t improve Everton’s accounting figures too much, but would release large funds which could be utilised in reinforcing the squad.
Verdict: sell (reluctantly)
The winger was a rare good news story during much of his debut campaign with the Blues, signed for a negligible fee and contributing five goals before Christmas. Last term he was less impactful, though it is worth mentioning that he was tied (with the departed Gordon) as the club’s leading league goal scorer (four), until overhauled by Dwight McNeil in April. Fast in a team lacking pace and capable of an occasional bit of magic, Gray’s problem has always been consistency and so it has proven at Everton.
Unfancied in his preferred position by Dyche, he started only eight of 18 possible games after the new boss arrived, being left as an unused substitute on five occasions. Although he commands a relatively low wage, how much time he’ll see next season is debatable. Almost any fee for the ex-Leicester City man would help the accounts and would give the club some room to help with signing players that the boss would be more inclined to use.
Not many held high hopes for the forward following his signing from Brighton & Hove Albion late last August, but it’s fair to say even those modest expectations were not attained. Put simply, the Frenchman was a total bust. Completely ineffective in Lampard’s theoretically possession-based system, there was no chance he’d be suitable for Dyche’s more direct approach. A combined 174 minutes of league action across the final 13 games of the season and staying rooted to the bench during Everton’s crucial final match against Bournemouth suggests his future lies away from Merseyside.
To avoid posting a loss in the accounts, the club would have to generate a fee in excess of €7.9m for the one-goal striker, which may be tough. Mercifully, his wages are not prohibitive, so it should be possible to move him on this summer.
Now 22, the academy graduate looks like being another prospect developed at Finch Farm that will fall short of the required standard to make it at Everton. Though the tall striker enjoyed a solid spell at Championship outfit Sunderland before Christmas, scoring seven from 17 league appearances, what was looking like a useful development loan was cut short due to the striker crisis at his home club. Two starts and 228 minutes of Premier League football followed his recall, with just the one goal, admittedly a good one against Chelsea in March.
The forward shows the occasional nice touch and has been a strong finisher at all levels, but lacks the physicality and aggression to go with his physique, the intensity that Dyche demands and can appear to be a passenger in games. The forward is another entering the final year of his current deal and if the boss doesn’t rate him there’s no point in keeping him at the club. There’s interest in his services from several Championship sides and even a small fee will help the cash-starved Blues.
Arguably the Toffees’ best outfield player over the last two campaigns, the Nigerian’s contract expires next June, with a new deal first proposed in October left unsigned. The midfielder has made comments that imply he is considering a post-Everton future and this impasse cannot be allowed to continue beyond the current transfer window. Iwobi is thought to command a high wage and although not likely to be on the radar of elite sides, offers a combination of work-rate, creativity and durability that would elicit interest elsewhere.
Entering the final year of his contract, the attacking midfielder only has an amortised value of €6.1m, so a sale would not only generate a reasonable amount of money, but would help the Everton accounts also.