Everton’s recruitment processes have rightly been derided and pored over since in the introduction of our Director of Football model and the subsequent disasters that have followed. Everton have an inflated wage bill which is a dangerously high proportion of the club’s turnover and as a result they are now left with little to no room to manoeuvre in the transfer market. Make no mistake Marcel Brands has one of the toughest jobs in the League alongside Carlo Ancelotti to improve a playing squad whilst simultaneously bringing down a bloated wage bill.
There are many different schools of thought about how Everton’s recruitment strategy should be tailored to the long-term development of younger players aged 25 and under with resale value and subsequent re-investment into playing staff. This is a model that Everton used well and were one of the first in the country under David Moyes to use this player trading model to great affect without ever being able to take the next step.
And therein lies the issue. This effective player trading model (like all recruitment models I may add) is flawed. Whether it is Southampton, Leicester, or another premier league club eventually it will be exposed. This is due to the turnover in players being too high that eventually the player you bring in to replace the £50 million player who has been sold will be substandard, it is an impossible vicious circle to keep going. Everton are a huge Football Club and cannot be limited by a narrow recruitment vision. There are many people in football new to the industry who believe this to be the clear path for Everton to take with no uncertainty. I believe that this is a risk the club simple cannot take with crucial years ahead with a new £500 million stadium on the horizon. You cannot compare a foreign model (Red Bull clubs, Right to Dream) with the laws and regulations about Visas etc that prohibit Everton from following such a strategy.
Everton have a limited timeframe to build a team that is capable with competing with the top 6 now. They have a manager who will possibly not be here within the next 5 years. Sure, they could sign Ibrahim Sangare from relegated Toulouse and Ridle Baku from Mainz to form a new look midfield but at what risk? Both have their own technical and tactical flaws they could leave the midfield in an even worse position than it is now. By going after (and hopefully) signing Allan and Doucoure the midfield will have a proven minimum base level of performance that will allow us to compete I believe at a minimum top 8 finish and push towards the top 6 with European qualification a realistic possibility.
James Rodriquez is a name being currently heavily linked and causing much discussion and consternation between fans. This potential transfer is clearly a risk (no incoming transfer is risk free). But is it one that is worth taking? I think it is. Everton need to propel themselves up the league as quickly as possible in order to keep hold of the likes of Richarlison and Digne who will not be hanging around for another mid table finish. If James wages will fit within the current structure and a reasonably low fee can be agreed, then his level of technical performance not just in games but also in training can improve and inspire those players around him. You are never as far away in Football as you think from a good or potentially successful side. The perfect player, age, injury history, fee, wages, will not come to a twelfth placed Everton side. Recruitment needs to be flexible and creative where necessary, I have no doubt that long term strategies are being implemented as we (hopefully) move up the table towards European places. And at which time we can then be in the market and conversation for Europe’s top young talents, but this is a short window of opportunity and the time to win is now.