With the 2023 summer transfer window now shut and behind us, the crew at Royal Blue Mersey put their thoughts down in words on how they feel about the transfer activity that did (and did not!) take place at Everton ahead of what is already confirming our worst fears that another relegation zone slog does lie in front of us.
The Toffees worst ever start to a league campaign in the club’s long history was not something even the most pessimistic Blue would have envisioned especially with the kind opening slate Everton had been handed.
However, some truly awful finishing and headscratching errors especially from experienced heads means here the Blues sit on just a single point out of a possible twelve, and new horrors await on the other side of the international break.
The crew summarized the transfer activity for each of the squad positional groups, while talking about the moves in and out, development, expectations, and more. In part 2 here we look at the midfield and forward areas at the club. Part 1 released earlier today addressed the goalkeeping and defending situations.
Geoff - No new additions unless you count loanees Harrison and Danjuma who are more forwards. Losing Tom Davies was the best for him and us. Signs at Sheffield that the trio of Gana, Onana and Doucoure can play as well as work. Garner offers cover and can get better wide midfield and right back. Onyango can also offer size and energy. If Dele gets fit he could offer goals but it’s a long way back at the moment. We might struggle if injuries or more likely, suspensions take a toll
Pat - The club continues to ship out deadwood, with Gbamin and Davies the latest candidates. Dele Alli could be like a new signing if all goes well with his progress. I’m curious what the plan for Andre Gomes is, but we shall have to wait and see.
Tom - Like the defence, the midfield is all about the numbers. Gana, Garner and Doucoure are solid enough but beyond that there is very little beyond that. If the club was not so cash-strapped I’m certain a central midfielder was high on their shopping list. Tyler Onyango is inexperienced and Dele Alli’s reliability remains uncertain given his off-the-field difficulties. Losing Alex Iwobi was a blow, but I think Jack Harrison is a decent replacement once fit.
Kevin - Academy graduate Tom Davies finally left the club, following two seasons of injury and drift, signing on as a free agent at Sheffield United. Elsewhere a €26m offer from Fulham for the influential Alex Iwobi was too good to pass up, with the team’s leading playmaker entering into the final year of his contract and commanding big wages. Forgotten man Jean-Philippe’s contract was terminated, four years after he was signed for €25m. In what must rate as one of Everton’s all-time transfer busts, the Ivorian - hampered by a truly unfortunate series of severe injuries - played just 207 minutes of Premier League football during his time at the Merseyside outfit. Andros Townsend, absent for the entirety of last season with an ACL tear, saw his contract expire.
Sole arrival was Jack Harrison, on a loan with an option to buy from freshly relegated Leeds United. The winger, able to play both wings and in an attacking midfield role will add great options for the team when he has recovered from a hip injury that has sidelined him over the summer. The team appears well-stocked in the position, though finding the right balance has eluded Dyche so far.
Peter - The last minute departure of Iwobi with no replacement is another area of concern. The arrival of Harrison will be a good pickup once he is fit but his role is more in the forward area rather than as a midfielder. The departure of Davies, Gbamin and potentially Gomes were all expected and probably had no impact on the team’s strength.
Calvin - It is a sobering thought that as much as we talk up our midfield trio of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye, the truth is the Blues cannot play in a midfield two (such as in a 4-4-2) because no pairing out of the three works defensively. And even when all three are on the pitch the Blues defence continues to get shellacked. They at least got rid of quite a bit from the wage bill which is a start to future prosperity, so can’t quite complain there.
Geoff - Real improvement here and depth. Beto might be best centre forward since Lukaku. Danjuma when sharper and more in tune with Beto will be great. Chermiti will take longer but has all the tools. Looking forward to Harrison being available as he has great vision and a good left foot. He’ll get others playing and into decent positions. A fully fit Mcneil and having Dobbin available to gain experience means we are well stocked out wide with Young also available. Maupay and Cannon leaving were the right decisions. Gray appears to have no future. Some sympathy for him but he doesn’t appear to fit the Dyche mould. That leaves Calvert-Lewin. If fully fit he will no longer have the burden of being the sole big centre forward. If we ever go 4 4 2 with him and Beto we’d have a proper threat. Forwards, we are better than we have been for a long time.
Pat - Beto looks to be the real deal, as Chermiti seems to be one for the future and I don’t anticipate any immediate impact from the youngster. Maupay is finally out, granted just on a loan. I don’t think Simms was going to cut it, but a little disappointed the club got rid of Cannon. Danjiuma looks lively and Harrison should be a huge boost as well. I’m curious how the club will handle DCL’s return, or his future in general, as the injury-prone man has yet to find his fitness or form from prior seasons.
Tom - This is where there has been the biggest upgrade. Beto offers a presence upfront we have not seen since Romelu Lukaku and finally takes the pressure of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who can take his time to get fully fit. The prospect of both players starting upfront together is an intriguing one. Arnaut Danjuma has also hit the ground running with two goals already and shows signs of linking up well with Beto. Youseff Chermitti looks raw and very much one for the future, he will need to be introduced gradually. Lewis Dobbin has featured early on but I expect him to drop down to the bench when others are fit.
Kevin - There was a flurry of exits this summer, starting with Ellis Simms being sent to Coventry (!) for €7m. This was a good deal for Everton, as the 22-year-old had shown little sign of being able to develop into a top-division striker. Deadline day saw the departures of Tom Cannon to Leicester City for almost €9m, in the wake of a good half-season loan at Preston North End in January. It was disappointing to see the youngster sold on so quickly, but that the club opted to go this route is indicative of how tight things are financially. Gone, with less regret was Neal Maupay, on loan to former club Brentford, ending a miserable year for the Frenchman, scorer of just a single goal for the Toffees across 32 appearances in all competition, an abject statistic. Nowhere near as bad a player as implied by the brutal numbers, it’s fair to say that he underachieved quite dramatically, though hardly helped by the role he was asked to play in the side.
The club made a trio of exciting signings in an area of the squad that’s been found wanting in recent seasons. First in was talented prospect Youssef Chermiti, for a fee of around €12m from Sporting CP. One for the future, the 19-year-old offers a good mix of size, speed and touch and may have found an ideal role model in Everton’s other striker arrival, Beto. A long-term target, the €25m capture from Udinese has immediately shown what the team has been missing for some time: a big target man blessed with surprising pace and good instincts around the box. Nominal forward Arnaut Danjuma, who will likely see most of his action from the wing arrived on loan (finally!) from Villarreal and has already netted twice for the Blues. Quick, skillful and direct, the Dutchman has demonstrated a strong potential to link up with Beto, which promises much going forward. The club have finally addressed the glaring problem area from the previous campaign and scoring goals should not prove so difficult a task for the current campaign.
Peter - Before the transfer window opened, the forward line was the area that needed the most attention. The arrivals of Beto, Chermiti, Danjuma and Harrison will no doubt add more quality to their attack and the departure of Maupay was inevitable given his complete lack of finishing. Gray’s recent departure was a blessing given the drama surrounding the move and the distraction that it was creating for the team.
Overall, we have cleared off a lot of deadwood and there has been a significant drop in our overall wage bill which will help our FFP position. Every window brings disappointments and this one was no different. There was a net gain financially but there was a belief that more was needed. Whether this money will be available for the January window is questionable. If Dyche and Thelwell get to use it, then another defender and a creative midfielder would be top of my list.
Calvin - By far the most exciting development at the Blues for me. Beto has looked the real deal in early going, certainly has a nose for goal and will work tirelessly when he’s on the pitch even against physical defenders. Arnaut Danjuma shows a lot more workrate than Demarai Gray on either end of the pitch - when was the last time you saw Gray in his own box clearing the ball (watch the Dutchman try to help clear the ball late on that miracle double save from Pickford) or crashing the net when a cross comes into the six-yard box (the equalizer against Sheffield United)? Youssef Chermiti is an eye to the future, but whether it will work out or not we won’t know for some time. Jack Harrison’s hard running and quickness in getting vertical should only benefit the Blues’ scoring.
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