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After a chaotic start to the summer transfer window, it wouldn’t be a massive surprise if things did slow down for Everton in terms of recruitment for a few weeks.
Not because the club lack a desire to do business, as Ronald Koeman made clear during the club’s unveiling of Wayne Rooney on Monday, rather that pre-season has moved into a different phase.
Indeed, Everton are off to Tanzania for a glamour friendly with Kenya’s Gor Mahia FC, a match that’ll begin their preparations in earnest for the upcoming Europa League qualifying ties. Elsewhere, Premier League outfits are jetting to all corners of the globe to begin their lucrative tours.
It makes transfers tougher to get done. It’s also another reminder that the Toffees’ recruitment team—Steve Walsh in particular—should be applauded for making some crucial additions early in the off-season.
Yet the squad is still short and with Romelu Lukaku finally out the door, there’s a 25-goal hole at the point of the attack. It makes the upcoming weeks vital for the Toffees.
Having made some undeniable progress in the way they do business, this will be another chance to showcase a step forward in player purchasing.
While Evertonians have been delighted with the signings of Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Wayne Rooney and Sandro Ramirez—not forgetting anyone there, am I?—all of those incomings, perhaps with the exception of the latter, have been pretty simple.
Pickford was authoritatively swept from a relegated side, while Manchester United’s signing of Victor Lindelof paved the way for Keane to move to Goodison Park.
Klaassen, at 24, is a player who would have been looking for a move to a top-five European league despite his obvious ties to Ajax and Rooney, as he confirmed himself, was desperate to return to Merseyside once Everton’s hoisted their skirt in his direction.
Now the club must turn to a different type of footballer.
As Everton gear up for the unenviable task of replacing the guaranteed goals of Lukaku, they will face resistance and obstacles. After all, there aren’t many coaches in the game who can afford to lose any player who contributes with the regularity in the final third that Everton require.
We’ve seen that already in the case of Gylfi Sigurdsson. As reports gathered pace the Toffees were closing on the Icelandic international, they were extinguished by stories suggesting Swansea City want in excess of £45 million for their midfielder.
At the point of the attack, more players have been linked, with Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud, Roma striker Edin Dzeko and Crystal Palace sharpshooter Christian Benteke said to be on Everton’s shortlist.
Getting them won’t be straightforward. Arsene Wenger has already made it clear he wants to keep Giroud, while Roma are in the Champions League next term and will not want to part ways with Dzeko, who came good to win the Capocannoniere in Serie A in 2016-17.
As for Benteke, a year on from parting with £30 million to sign him from Liverpool, Crystal Palace are under no pressure to cash in. Everton would be looking at a huge fee if they were to prise him away from Selhurst Park too; you sense it’d be similar in the case of Giroud and Dzeko.
These clubs are well within their right to hold firm, of course. All the players aforementioned are admired at their current homes and important, in varying degrees, to the way the side plays.
So while some will scoff at £45 million being bandied about, for Swansea to replace Sigurdsson they’d probably require that amount of money. The same applies for Dzeko at Roma and Benteke at Palace. The same applied for Lukaku with Everton.
It’s going to be fascinating to see how the Toffees go about getting some of these players through the USM Finch Farm doors in the coming weeks.
Will they be willing to pay a staggering going rate in an extortionate market? Will they turn their nose up at the valuations and entrust Walsh to find some gems elsewhere? Will they bide their time until late in the window, when the perpetually-grinding transfer machine churns out other options?
The promising acquisitions of young, dynamic and adaptable footballers early in the window have settled Evertonians, even with the finest striker the club has had in a generation heading out the door. So if Walsh, Koeman and Bill Kenwright do opt to hang fire for now, any unrest among supporters will be at a minimum.
But the weeks between now and the end of the transfer window feel more significant than those that have gone before. It’s a period that’ll give the new Everton a chance to flex their muscles again and has the potential to be defining for the 2017-18 term.