Everton were sorely missing quality in a number of spots across the pitch and there is the chance that some gems exist on these sides that could certainly improve the Blues.
The writing crew here at Royal Blue Mersey put their heads together to pick out who they fancied the most from those sides, and came up with this list of players - in previous years we had also picked Abdoulaye Doucoure, Ben Godfrey, James Tarkowski & Dwight McNeil amongst others.
Read on for some quick thoughts on who the Blues should be targeting this summer, here is the list we were working from.
Everybody knows what Everton needs: a (fit) striker that can win a header and lead the line.
Obviously, we’re going to be hamstrung by FFP, so we’re going to have to rein in our expectations. No top striker will want to come to Everton right now (just look at what happened in the January window), so unless we can unearth a diamond, someone from the likes of Leicester, Saints or Leeds might be our best shout.
That means the hardly inspiring options of Kelechi Iheanacho, Patrick Bamford or Che Adams. I think a loan move for any of the above might be a smart choice – with us relieving the wage burden for the relegated sides without having to make a significant financial outlay.
Some attacking options in wide positions would also be a welcome boost, but I don’t see the likes of James Maddison or Harvey Barnes being remotely interested in joining us.
Crysencio Summerville from Leeds or Carlos Alcaraz from Saints would be interesting options, but we don’t have the financial means to go for them, unless we opt to cash in on Jordan Pickford or Amadou Onana.
I believe a successful window for us hinges on us getting two really strong attacking options in on loan – looking at “spare” players at the likes of Chelsea (see: Noni Madueke, Hakim Ziyech, Armando Broja or Wesley Fofana). A Lukaku-esque loan right now could be pivotal in our rebuild.
Love this topic of conversation each year (so long as we’re not one of the 3 relegated....)
Personally I think the pick of those players like James Ward-Prowse, Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Jack Harrison will end up with clubs with better prospects than Everton right now. However, I would like to see the following players seriously considered for the Blues.
Kyle Walker-Peters because he can operate equally effectively as a right back, left back and right wing back. Versatile, still only mid-20s, bit of pedigree with Tottenham Hotspur before Southampton and an England international, 2 years left on his contract might bump the price up too far though.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, very industrious, energetic midfielder and with an eye for goal. Now got plenty of Premier League games under his belt, nice left foot. May be pricey as is contracted until 2027.
Kamaldeen Sulemana, sorry we didn’t get him in January when heavily linked. Quick, skillful winger and with an eye for goal. He has a contract until 2027 also so the Saints would at least be looking for their money back which might be too much.
Finally, a new name to the list, another Southampton player Armel Bella-Kotchap. Just 21, the French born Germany international had a great start before a recurring shoulder dislocation disrupted his season. Tall, good in the air and in the tackle, reads the game well and quick too. He’d be my pick if he could stay fit and not become another Yerry Mina. Contract till 2026 but if Saints doubled their money and made a good profit you’re talking £20 million for a class player.
Some of the names are well out of our price range including Maddison, Barnes, and Harrison. Of the others I would put in a bid for -
James Ward-Prowse - Everton have been without an out and out free kick taker since Leighton Baines hung up his boots. Also, he plays every game and averages 89 minutes on the pitch. He may not be the most attacking player when he is on the ball but his contributions from a dead ball are more than enough to consider signing him. Captain material and quiet leadership in abundance.
Romeo Lavia - The 19-year-old defensive midfielder was impressive this season having moved from the Manchester City youth setup and slotted straight into the lineup. He was extremely good defensively, proving proficient at tackling and getting in passing lanes. Depending on what happens with Amadou Onana, Lavia could be a less expensive replacement.
Rodrigo - Did anyone mention we might need a striker/forward? He is 32 years old and after arriving at Leeds for €30 million, his sell on price would be lower. He was the team’s leading scorer with 13 goals in the Premier League and 15 overall. He averaged 73 minutes per game this year and would be a proven goalscorer at this level who could have an impact from the bench or as a back up.
James Justin - The Leicester full back has had two serious injuries in the last couple of seasons but was ready to play in May. Unfortunately, he had been left out of the Premier League squad because he was not expected to return this year. When he is on the pitch he has produced some great numbers, averaging more than 7.0 on Sofascore and can play on both the left and right side. His defensive capabilities are very good and he has a turn of pace to bomb down the wing to get the ball into the box. At 25, he is entering the prime of his career.
Leicester - Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. Plenty of Premier League experience and still only 24, I think Dewsbury-Hall could be a good addition to our midfield. There’s some question marks surrounding Onana’s future at the club and Tom Davies should no longer be in the equation following this summer’s transfer window.
Leeds United - Tyler Adams. I’m slightly biased being a NY Red Bulls and USMNT supporter, but I think Adams would be a dominating force in our midfield. However, it’ll be interesting to track his fitness latest following a recent season-ending injury.
Southampton - Romeo Lavia. I tried really hard to not include only center midfielders in this list, but unfortunately I don’t think there is really any other value out of the three teams position-wise that make any sense and will elevate this team forward (sorry, Che Adams). Lavia is only 19 and should only get better after a decent first season in the Premier League.
Prime targets from Leicester such as James Maddison, Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes will be beyond Everton’s financial reach. Sadly, all will have superior options than the Blues can offer at this time.
Timothy Castagne: Played the most minutes of any LCFC player last season. Versatile, can play either FB position. Good in possession (80.1% pass success), but more of a defensive player. Strong aerially (83rd percentile). Concern may be likely fee (rated at €28m, 2 years left on deal).
Kelechi Iheanacho: Enjoyed his best spell at the Foxes during the 2020/21 season, when used in a front two alongside Jamie Vardy (12 league goals), but rarely able to command a regular starting place for some reason. Ranks in the high 80th or 90th percentile amongst strikers last season in most attacking metrics, able to play well in a possession-heavy system, rarely injured and still only 26 the Nigerian is entering the final year of his contract and with a Transfermarkt value of €17m could be an affordable target for the Blues, should he not renew.
Patson Daka: prolific in Austria, he’s been unable to get close to replicating that productivity in two seasons in England. Besides his high wage, Leicester would likely wish to recoup most of the €30m they laid out for the Zimbabwean, so not a good option for Everton.
From Leeds United, can’t see Harrison being within our budget.
Luis Sinisterra: major talent in the Netherlands and showed flashes at Leeds, but missed long stretches of the campaign with injuries and was out for almost the whole of 2020 with a cruciate ligament injury. Bought for €25m only last summer, would present an expensive gamble.
Wilfred Gnonto: made an exciting splash after arriving last September, but lacks consistency and maturity at this stage. Already a full Italian international at just 19 years of age, if Leeds were to entertain letting him go, they’d certainly want a lot more than the €18m that Transfermarkt currently rates the winger at.
Crysencio Summerville: another to make a breakthrough this season, the Dutchman’s productivity trailed off significantly after a burst of impressive performances before the World Cup. On low wages and with three years left on his current deal, it would be surprising for the club to let him go for the kind of money Everton would want to pay.
Patrick Bamford: prolific in his debut Premier League campaign with Leeds, the 29-year-old has endured an injury-hit follow up and last season struggled for fitness and consistency, scoring only four goals in 28 league appearances. The Blues cannot be looking at signing players with fitness issues, particularly those on the older side.
Tyler Adams: would add energy to the Everton midfield, but again a recent arrival, under contract until 2027 and would probably cost more than the Toffees would consider worth spending on this area of the squad.
From Southampton -
James Ward-Prowse: rumour is that the Southampton hierarchy would demand a substantial fee for their captain. At 28 and with a baseline evaluation set at €38m it would appear the midfielder would be beyond Everton’s reach, even if the player would countenance such a move.
Carlos Alcaraz: an exciting talent, it’d be astonishing if the Saints decided to accept bids on the youngster a mere five months after signing him for around €14m.
Romeo Lavia: One of several signed last summer from the Manchester City academy, the impressive teenager will have suitors with much deeper pockets than the Toffees, should Southampton choose to entertain bids for the midfielder.
Kamaldeen Sulemana: signed by the Saints four months ago for €25m in a bid to avoid the drop, the winger is a raw but pacy talent. The club will surely wish to retain exciting recent signings such as the Ghanaian, unless a lot of money is thrown at them; it’s hard to see Everton being in position to do so.
Kyle Walker-Peters: a consistent, versatile fullback, who is capable of playing on both flanks, he would present an upgrade for the Blues in either position. That however would mean he’d come at a premium. Rated at around €25m, such an outlay would be a significant one for a Blues team needed to find affordable solutions to patch up big holes in several areas of the squad. For this reason, a move is improbable.
Mohammed Salisu: the 24-year-old rates highly in most defensive metrics, though he was part of a defence that conceded 73 league goals last term. Dropped down the stretch for alleged “lack of commitment” as he approached the final year of his Southampton contract, which is not a good look. Considered to be a relatively low earner at the club, he could be a viable option for the Blues.
Che Adams: another player entering the last year of his contract and typically linked with Everton during every transfer window, the 26-year-old striker was largely absent as Saints fought to stay in the division. With Premier League goal tallies over the last four seasons of 4, 9, 7 and 5, it is clear by now that Adams is at best a very mediocre forward at this level. Consider that Neal Maupay scored 30 league goals to Adams’s 20 over the 2019-22 period; need I say more?
We cannot be too haughty as we don’t have very much money; selling Onana and some others would help, but that’s losing talent, as we’re not getting much for the extra pieces that don’t work.
From Leicester: Patson Daka is the name to watch. He can do it all when he’s in form, and his goal scoring and ability to join the build up when necessary would be a welcome innovation for a team that lacked goal scoring and creative presence all year.
From Leeds: Luis Sinisterra and Crysencio Summerville are both good options - and Jack Harrison has to be going somewhere too one suspects; all could provide pace, width and - hopefully - goals.
From Southampton: There are very few that strike the dead ball better than James Ward-Prowse, and folks have long wondered why he did not leave the Saints earlier on. Kyle Walker-Peters and Mohammed Salisu would provide good ability on the back line, which will be necessary with so many defensive players either gone, not retained, injured or in poor form.
Here are some truths about the upcoming summer transfer window for Everton - we have some critical squad weaknesses, we are not going to have a lot of money to spend, and not too many players are going to want to come to the Toffees either. Also, not all players from relegated teams are ‘losers’ and therefore it’s not ‘bin-dipping’ to make smart purchases from teams that drop down, as Jordan Pickford among others would like to remind you.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about some of the players Everton should target this summer from the three sides that will play in the Championship next season.
With Yerry Mina and Conor Coady gone, we will need a solid centrehalf along with Jarrad Branthwaite. Mohammed Salisu is only 24, entering the last year of his contract, and likely a better back-up than Michael Keane. Wout Faes is also a good shout, but he’ll be a lot more expensive.
If the Blues do end up selling Amadou Onana, I’d like to see them make a run for Tyler Adams. His energy in the middle of the pitch is something the Blues will desperately need. He won’t come too cheap, but neither will Carlos Alcaraz nor Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall who would be good additions too in the middle.
Where will the goals come from? Kelechi Iheanacho, that’s where. The Nigerian international has scored 42 times with 28 assists in the Premier League in just under 200 appearances for the Foxes. Everton hero Dominic Calvert-Lewin has 47 goals and 16 assists in 181 games, playing a lot more minutes. Iheanacho is more durable, and plays just as well leading the line from the start or as an impact sub.
Kamaldeen Sulemana is also an excellent wide player with an eye for goal, even though he’s a left winger, which would mean moving Dwight McNeil over to the right to play as an inverted winger.