Isn’t it great to look forward to a transfer window as an Evertonian with genuine hope and optimism that some real BIG-MONEY signings will be holding up the famous shirt this summer?!
We can now relish the Blues competing financially (Thank You Farhad) and splashing the cash on the best talent to take us back to the top table of English football.
Here, The Blue Room’s Elliott Bretland shares his dream squad for the 2017/18 season…
I admit, Mr Moshiri will be getting his chequebook out at a rapid rate should this fantasy team come true. Everton would easily fork out £150m+ putting this squad together but I think each target is certainly attainable and at last, a wad of money is there to spend!
While Everton can unlikely go down the Chelsea/Roman Abramovich route of 2003 thanks to Financial Fair Play, I’m confident we can build a supremely talented squad and a firm believer that two quality players in each position are essential to compete – especially as we’re on course for Europe.
I think it is a summer or two early to see world-class superstars rocking up at Finch Farm but this squad is certainly capable of pushing for a top four place.
So, playing the role of Moshiri, Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh all rolled into one, this is how I would shape the Everton team for the next campaign…
It’s now widely accepted JOEL ROBLES is a very capable Premier League goalkeeper but the question remains whether he is ready to be the No 1 for a team hoping to challenge the top four and beyond.
For me, he his, and Everton’s need for a quality stopper is not so great as it was last summer. Joel has put in some outstanding displays this term and is showing a real maturity to his game.
However, a top keeper is still needed to battle the Spaniard for a starting spot with MAARTEN STEKELENBURG an able third-choice – should the former Ajax player be content training all week only to then be on standby for a place on the bench.
In an ideal world, Everton would have signed JACK BUTLAND about five years ago. Alas, he went to Stoke and, after suffering a terrible injury, is out indeinitely. He was the ideal candidate to be the Toffees keeper for the next decade or so but is ruled out.
FRASER FORSTER was the other goalkeeper I really liked, as did the Koeman brothers who attempted to sign their former No 1 from Southampton shortly ater they arrived at Goodison. However, the towering Saints star has been below-par this term, making a few costly errors for his team and thus putting me off.
Other stoppers Everton are looking at are JORDAN PICKFORD and TOM HEATON.
Pickford, playing for boyhood club Sunderland, will be an England international soon enough and is also interesting Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal.
We got a good look at him in Everton’s 2-0 victory against the Black Cats. He was assertive and his kicking brilliant though his handling was a little suspect at times. This will improve no doubt and it is of course only one showing. However, I wasn’t entirely convinced.
Meanhile, Heaton is experienced, commanding and an excellent shot stopper and has impressed in the Premier League with a show-stopping performance at Old Trafford a real highlight in what has been a fine season for the former United trainee.
However, the goalkeeper I would sign this summer is JOE HART. Having played a major role in City’s journey from also-rans to Premier League champions, he would be an ideal signing as Koeman looks for a similar club transformation.
Loaned out to Torino this season, he will be available and I believe should be our main goalkeeper target.
Pep Guardiola may be happy to lose Hart but I would be delighted to have him.
Hart is up there with the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, absolutely hates to lose and demands the highest standards from team-mates. As well as his strong winning mentality, he is a vocal leader on the pitch and boasts qualities Everton currently lack.
Hart gets the nod from me.
Virgil van Dijk
There is one player I would love Everton to sign in the summer. Not ony would he improve the team but it would make a huge statement. VIRGIL VAN DIJK.
Now this excites me. Coveted by all of the top-money clubs after a stellar season, I believe Everton have a real chance of landing the defender. What a way to prove our new found power in the transfer market by landing the Dutchman.
Koeman is key. With previous links and a special relationship with the player, the Everton boss will be the driving force in any deal which sees Van Dijk picking us ahead of other suitors. I’m confident we can pull this off and, even better, we can actually compete financially for his signature.
I also think it is important the Blues sign a relatively young centre-back to eventually fill in for ASHLEY WILLIAMS, 33 in August, when the time comes for him to step aside and Burnley’s MICHAEL KEANE, who only turned 24 in January, is the ideal candidate.
Strong, with good tactical awareness and brave too, Keane has impressed at Burnley having started his career with Manchester United and has been coveted by the Toffees.
MATTHEW PENNINGTON, of course, is also pushing to stake a claim having impressed Koeman and can provide suitable back-up as fifth choice CB behind MASON HOLGATE who will hope for more game-time as he continues to improve at a rapid rate.
At left-back, I believe ANDREW ROBERTSON at Hull is the long-term replacement for Leighton Baines.
We were very interested in the Scot during his time at Dundee United and should certainly go back in for him. Robertson loves to get up and down the pitch and is also a very solid defender. I believe his energy would be of huge benefit to this Koeman side.
Leicester’s BEN CHILWELL is another promising wing-back in a similar mould but would command a larger fee while he has also been linked with Arsenal and Liverpool while LUKE SHAW will surely prove his worth at United – they’d be foolish to let him go.
Over on the other side of the pitch, at right-back, I think an able deputy for SEAMUS COLEMAN is already at the club in JONJOE KENNY, our tough-tackling, energetic academy graduate.
Coleman has again been linked with a switch to United and I believe those reports could have legs. Of course, many have tipped the Irishman as a future captain and should he move, a more experienced right back would certainly have to be signed. Holgate, meanwhile, is an option as cover but should now be left to develop his game at centre-back rather than having to slot in out wide.
As well, there is CALLUM CONNOLLY; Mr Versatile, the utility man. Very capable and made an impressive cameo against Southampton in 2015/16, he has impressed on loan at Wigan and I’d be very keen to see him in and around the matchday squad.
PHIL JAGIELKA has been a brilliant player for Everton but unfortunately age has caught up with him and the 34-year-old skipper is no longer a starter. Fully expect him to link up with David Moyes at Sunderland whether they stay up or not.
RAMIRO FUNES MORI isn’t good enough to play in a top Premier League side. No doubt he will be great on the continent and while liability is perhaps too strong a tag to label him with, he doesn’t fill you with much confidence. His concentration levels and positioning are not up to the standard needed.
Everton could certainly command a hefty fee for the Argentina international and he would certainly go down in Goodison folklore – a big character and a great celebrator of goals but needs moving on if we are to be a successful, trophy-winning side.
LUKE GARBUTT is a suprememly talented individual with exceptional technical ability but it just hasn’t happened for him at Goodison. Tipped as the heir to Baines, he has since struggled with injuries during spells with Fulham and Wigan. It may be time for Garbutt to take a step back in order to move forward though that would be a real shame.
Local lad TYIAS BROWNING is currently on loan with Preston and, after almost a year on the sidelines prior to that, another temporary switch for the early part of next season may be beneficial.
BRENDAN GALLOWAY shone in defence during the early part of last season. However, making only three appearances on loan at West Brom in 2016, I believe, with new defenders expected to be signed, his chances of focing his way back into the Everton team are very slim. Shouldn’t let him go permanently, but he’ll still need game-time at a high level.
Idrissa Gana Gueye
Everton need to improve on set-pieces and GYLFI SIGURDSSON is the answer.
The Swansea talisman should be relatively easy to attain and would give the squad a creative boost – the lanky Icelander regularly tops the charts for chances made, and, you may agree, there’s something about him which is very ‘Everton’. He suits us.
The midfielder can whip in delicious corners and free-kicks and, similarly to Tim Cahill, I feel he has that ability to grab vitally important goals against the top sides, and would be a danger to the opposition, particularly away from home.
Another statement signing would be that of YOURI TIELEMANS. Still 19, the attacking midfielder already has over 100 appearances for Anderlecht (remind you of anyone?) and is an exciting talent. Boasting great feet, he is a scorer of stunning goals.
Forcing his way into a class Belgium squad while still a teenager is no mean feat either while it is understood Tielemans is keen to move to a club at the level of Everton, pushing for and playing in the Europa League, in order to continue his progression rather than struggle for game time at a club already playing at a higher level. This thought process, of course, shows a player with a sensible head on his shoulders.
Tielemans to Everton would be a perfect fit for both parties.
The 21st century edition of the Everton Holy Trinity will be a driving force during the Koeman era and MORGAN SCHNEIDERLIN, IDRISSA GANA GUEYE and TOM DAVIES will hopefully take us forward while JAMES MCCARTHY is a very able deputy for any of the three having rediscovered the form which made him a hit during his first season.
All four patrol the pitch excellently and can battle to push Everton up the pitch.
ROSS BARKLEY, meanwhile, has improved hugely this season, particularly since the turn of the year. Whether that is due to the emergence of Davies or Koeman’s coaching methods, something has certainly clicked.
Barkley’s decision-making is now much better while he has always boasted exceptional ability. The next step in his progression would be to take games by the scruff of the neck and be the match-winner or assist king we always hoped he would be.
ADEMOLA LOOKMAN was an excellent acquisition in January and his pace and industry will hopefully add a new dimension to Everton’s forward play. One for the future but should regularly be on the bench at this stage, starting the occassional match.
I have always described KEVIN MIRALLAS as a ‘YouTube player’. He’s got countless tricks in his locker but is he really that effective?
I believe he is much more of a threat through the middle though and reckon we’ve wasted him slightly out wide.
While his game is may be lacking, he will score five or six goals a season. For that reason I would keep him for Koeman’s second campaign but would not expect him to feature too regularly.
YANNICK BOLASIE, meanwhile, is not expected to be back until 2018. Let’s hope his awful injury has not robbed him of his electrifying pace.
GARETH BARRY no longer has the legs to compete at the highest level and unfortunately this should be his last season at Everton. He’s been a great servant for the club and was a vital cog in the team during the 2013/14 campaign especially but, as with Jagielka, age is against him now.
He is too slow and can now only watch on as the opposition glides past him. His inclusion sees us play far too deep due to him being so off the pace, as well.
Could see him being an exceptional squad player for former club Aston Villa.
MUHAMED BESIC is hugley popular with a large section of the fanbase for his passion and he is a willing runner with impressive ability. However, injuries have seen him fall down the pecking order.
AARON LENNON works exceptionally hard but hard work is no longer what Everton are solely about. Put simply, Lennon does not have the quality needed if we are to reach the next level.
GERARD DEULOFEU will shine more often than not in Spain and Italy but he flatters to deceive on a consistent basis in England.
He can beat a man and his crossing range is impeccable, perhaps up there with the best in the world, but he fails to deliver far too regularly while his fitness levels are just not at the required standard. Why? Who knows.
Will do a reasonable job in a mid-table Premier League side but is too limited. Will likely make his loan move to Watford a permanent one.
KIERAN DOWELL and LIAM WALSH boast supreme technical ability, can score goals and have shined for the Under 23s under David Unsworth. Loan moves at Championship level should boost their overall game.
GETHIN JONES and CONOR GRANT will also benefit from temporary moves but are behind Dowell and Walsh in the queue for the first-team.
ROMELU LUKAKU is the main man and should, hopefully, remain an Everton player next season.
Not that it will affect results, but our Premier League goalscorer needs to be given the No 9 shirt so he can share iconic status with the many great strikers who have played for this great club.
The number means a great deal at Goodison Park and Lukaku should be rewarded with such an honour after another fine, goalscoring season.
Our main signing upfront should be ANDREA BELOTTI of Torino.
Strong, powerful and dynamic, Belotti is the top scorer in Serie A and we would certainly face competition for his signature but, with money to spend, Everton have a chance; though Torino will obviously be expecting huge money if they are to allow him to leave.
Boasting a fine left foot, he is a powerhouse and I would love to see him in the Premier League scoring goals for Everton. He’s an exciting attacker and, playing with a smile on his face he loves to celebrate. I could see him being a fan favourite.
WAYNE ROONEY, meanwhile, needs to come home. He’s done it all at United and we can provide him with a fresh challenge.
I believe he could still play as a second striker though he would be brilliant competition for Barkley in the No 10 spot. He may not start every game but what a player to have to bring on.
Now the wrong side of 30, he can still be a hugely influential both on and off the pitch and can pass on his experience to Davies, Barkley and our other young talents.
A globally famous name, this would be Everton’s easiest shot at landing a marquee signing.
I also considered forwards with Premier League experience, Callum Wilson and Charlie Austin would both be good in the Everton attack, but believe DOMINIC CALVERT-LEWIN can provide adequate cover up top.
AROUNA KONE may have put in the odd good performance but has never really got fans onside and saw a move to Crystal Palace fall through in January. At 33, he is surplus to requirements.
ENNER VALENCIA has worked hard during his cameos from the Everton bench but his loan move should not be made permanent if we have serious aspirations to be back among the best teams in England.
OUMAR NIASSE will go down in Everton history for all the wrong reasons and, while he may have scored against Liverpool (for Hull!) everyone is hoping his spell in the shop window with the Tigers will see a team stupid enough to make a sizeable bid.
SHANI TARASHAJ and DAVID HENEN have both failed to feature in the first-team squad.
I would give the captain’s armband to LEIGHTON BAINES. Model professional, been at the club for a decade and, while he isn’t the most vocal, will lead by example.
Not afraid to question the referee from time to time which is certainly needed in the modern era but is respectful enough not to get himself in too much trouble.
BRETLAND’S PREFERRED STARTING XI FOR 2017/18
Seamus Coleman – Virgil van Dijk – Ashley Williams – Leighton Baines (C)
Idrissa Gana Gueye – Morgan Schneiderlin
Gylfi Sigurdsson – Ross Barkley – Youri Tielemans
REST OF SQUAD
This team boasts unlimited options. Of course, the beauty of having cash to spend means Everton can finally build a quality squad – having an abundance of class players to choose from would give Koeman a real selection migraine, never mind a headache!
Rather than out-and-out wingers, I’d deploy Sigurdsson, Barkley and Tielemans as a hive of No 10s given licence to buzz about the pitch in the forward positions. A huge degree of discipline would have to come from the trio in this narrow system but I’d love to see all three start, feeding balls into Lukaku and being a nusiance to the opposition defence. Imagine.
However, the beauty of adding class beyond the starting XI is that you can regularly mix it up. Obviously, with other options, Davies could come in to a midfield three with two wideman deployed alongside Lukaku as the lone frontman. Alternatively, the Trinity of Schneiderlin, Gueye and Davies could play as part of a diamond with Belotti playing up front alongside Rom with Rooney to come on in any of the midfield or forward positions.
As well, with countless defensive options, Koeman could continue to use the 3-5-2 formation which has helped us this season while the additon of a quality striker is essential to take the burden off Lukaku and give him support.