The appointment of Ronald Koeman at Goodison Park at the start of the summer was greeted with great optimism from the Everton following, now nearing the end of July and the club look like they will need to press on with transfer commitments. The long running pursuit to bring in Steve Walsh from Leicester is now confirmed and this has provided the supporters with fresh optimism again, after all this is the man responsible for bring N’Golo Kante and last season’s player of the year Riyad Mahrez to the English game.
Everton is a club that has been linked with just about every player going this summer, the continuous links with Juan Mata who everyone is expecting to leave Old Trafford given his history with Jose Mourinho and Axel Witsel, the Belgian with a big reputation who now looks likely to join either Inter Milan or Juventus. The on-going saga with the futures of John Stones and Romelu Lukaku also looks to have slowed down transfer proceedings for the club, so ultimately they need to sort out the futures of these players pretty sharpish with only a few weeks until the start of the season. The 50 million price tags in which both Stones and Lukaku respectively have been linked with no doubt it seems that the Everton fans would snap your hand off to get that high a fee for each player. The club needs to press on and improve on this squad rather than sitting back and watching clubs around them improve their own squads, though nothing that would look too concerning for the club thus far.
The number one spot at Everton has been highly talked about ever since the news that Tim Howard would be returning to his native USA. The addition of Martin Stekelenburg looks a smart move from Koeman who trusts the Dutchman having worked with him several times now, however with doubts over Joel Robles and his future, the club really needs a top class number one goalkeeper. The smart money would go on Asmir Begovic from Chelsea joining the club, and he wouldn’t command a massive fee for the club. Begovic is known to be unhappy playing second fiddle at Stamford Bridge and his future could all depend on Chelsea signing Diego Lopez from AC Milan. The Premier League experience Begovic would provide would be invaluable to Everton and he has been a top goalkeeper in the league for many years now, talking of keepers with experience of the Premier League could we see a possible move for Newcastle’s number one Tim Krul. Koeman tracked Krul last summer for Southampton and is a known fan of his countryman; he might be a more expensive target but still a solid choice to come to Goodison Park. His distribution has always been in question however so whether this could an issue for Koeman would remain to be seen. Another goalkeeper the club has been linked with especially after helping to win the European Championships in the summer is Portugal and Sporting number one Rui Patricio. Patricio has been linked with a hefty 15 million move to Goodison Park, after a good campaign last time with Sporting and his triumph in the summer, there would still be questions asked of the 28 year old. His ability on crosses and lapses in concentration would put him down the list if I were picking the new number one for the club.
Defensively Everton need a new centre half, even more so if and more likely when John Stones does leave the club. Financially Everton are in a very good position but this does not mean they need to pay over the odds to acquire players this summer, and with some of the fees they have been reported with already this looks to be the case. Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly is a player who has emerged on a number of clubs target list this summer and Everton are reportedly one of these clubs. The speculation is that the Senegalese international would command a fee of 55 million Euros (46m pounds); surely the club must look at alternatives as this is a lot of money to spend on a player who has emerged after one real top class year in Italy. There are options available to Everton in this case and this is where Steve Walsh will really earn his money. Andrea Ronocchia at Inter Milan would be a top class signing for Everton. The former club captain was not part of the multi-million set-up at the San Siro last season managing only ten appearances in all competitions; this is an International centre half that has represented Italy twenty-one times which is no small achievement. The Italian would not command a fee anywhere near the region of Koulibaly and would provide the club with much experience and intelligence. The club might have missed a trick allowing Rob Holding to easily join Arsenal, the young centre back is a player with a big future and a rising reputation who would have slotted in well at the club, but with his move could Everton swoop in and acquire the services of Callum Chambers who for his own future needs to leave the Emirates this summer, Koeman will only know what he wants at Goodison Park this summer but with the guidance and knowledge of Steve Walsh at the club defensively Everton do need to improve especially centrally.
The persistent talk of Axel Witsel joining Everton this summer would make us understand that the club want to make the Belgian international there marquee signing. Witsel seems to have been around for a long time now and at the age of twenty-seven it looks like the Zenit midfielder will be making a move, however surely Everton must be considering the transfer fee again and thinking of better alternatives. One alternative that has been linked but not as strongly as Witsel has been William Carvalho. The Portugal international is only twenty-four and he is a big unit, he would add much needed steel in the centre of Everton’s midfield and is comfortable receiving the ball from his defenders. Carvalho has been an up-rising star in Europe for a few years now, but a player that Koeman could mould into one of the best in position across Europe. Dependent on the future of Axel Witsel’s future there could be possible moves in the pipeline for Everton, Inter Milan are rumoured to be favourites for his signature so if a move to the San Siro is what Witsel favours then they might just consider bids for Gary Medel, a player Everton were linked with before his joined the Italian giants. The Chilean is a fiery, in your face, combative midfielder who has a great ability to win the second ball. His versatility to play at the back could be important if Koeman wants to go with a three man defence but a move for the Chile international is far off. Should Juventus acquire Witsel then the future of Mario Lemina might just be in jeopardy and he is another top class holding midfielder who Everton could target.
One player Koeman and Everton missed out on this summer is Dutch international Georginio Wijnaldum; the former Newcastle man opted for a move to bitter rivals Liverpool for a fee of 25 million, this must be considered a blessing in disguise for Everton and their supporters. There is no doubt clubs will and already have paid over the odds this transfer window for players, but Everton could add much needed quality more successfully. Polish wonder-kid Bartosz Kapustka who enhanced his reputation at the European Championships could be a great alternative for Everton and with his versatility playing across an attacking front three or in a central midfield position his transfer fee could look like a bargain buy with a rumoured 6.25 million on his head from current club Cracovia in Poland. Reported links with a move for Manchester United duo Juan Mata and Morgan Schneiderlin looks highly unlikely; however Schneiderlin might just look a possibility depending where Axel Witsel joins in the coming days or weeks. The current Everton midfield/ attack options does look strong, with Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu and Kevin Mirallas, however Koeman might want to add a better standard of depth to this squad with Aaron Lennon and Tom Cleverly seemingly the alternatives. Stoke wide-man Marko Arnautovic could be a top signing for Everton and with the player stalling on talks for a new contract a move could be on for Koeman to take advantage of this. The Austrian international was the stand out player at Stoke last season and would add class and unpredictability to the Everton attack.
The striker situation at Everton looks an area in which Koeman needs to address. The future of Lukaku needs to get dealt with as quickly as possible for the club; Koeman is known to be keen to hold on to the Belgian frontman nonetheless it seems the player wants to leave the club. January signing Oumar Niasse never got a real opportunity at Goodison Park but his future at the Merseyside club looks to over already with reports a move to Turkey could be his next move. Who does Everton have lined up to replace Lukaku? Do they move Mirallas into a more central position to lead the line? Well one striker who has been linked to every major league in Europe is Algerian striker Islam Slimani. The Sporting striker hit thirty-one goals in all competitions during the previous campaign and has been the subject of bids from clubs around Europe for the last two summers. There is a lot of clubs around Europe currently looking to improve their strikers so there will competition for a lot of players that play in that role. Barcelona looks like they might complete a deal for Kevin Gameiro of Sevilla which could end their interest in Athletico Madrid striker Luciano Vietto who could give Koeman a fresh target. The Argentine striker is only twenty-two and has found himself as a bit part player with the Spanish club. With the ability Vietto possesses he would be a massive coup for Everton should they get the go ahead for a move. Could a move be on for Theo Walcott, after his name was in reports at the very start of the transfer window, the talk of his future has died away, would he be a good solution for Everton? Well question marks has always surrounded the Englishman in front of goal, his quick and direct running would get him in behind defenders but could he find a move to Merseyside resurrect his career? Wilfried Bony is another name that could be linked with Goodison Park, especially if somehow he could be part of the John Stones deal to take him to Manchester City. Bony hasn’t quite made an impact since his big money move from Swansea to Manchester City, but he really made an impact in the Premier League while at Swansea. The Ivorian striker needs to move to re-ignite his career and Everton could be a great place for him to do that, especially given the threat Everton have from the wide areas.
These upcoming weeks will be busy for Everton without a doubt and now with Steve Walsh in place they must really look to improve the team to get the club challenging around the top half of the Premier League this season. They have missed a few steps in the transfer window so far, Nani was a player linked but not pursued, Nathan Redmond another who could have been a very productive acquisition by the club and Vincent Janssen who joined Tottenham looks the striker Everton could have done with, but there is plenty of time to get the business done and keep the optimism around Goodison Park this seas