Everton have featured in a lot of headlines over the summer due to a spending spree that has seen over £80 million paid out on new players – as well as bringing Wayne Rooney back to his boyhood club on a free transfer.
Some sections of the media – as well as some fans – have got very excited about this new look side and there has been talk of Everton breaking into the top four and qualifying for the Champions League. But what can we really expect from the Toffees this season?
With majority owner Farhad Moshiri seemingly willing to give Ronald Koeman the money he needs to challenge for a top four spot Everton have completed a lot of business already – with a few more signings apparently still to come. There may have been a large outlay this summer but the club will have to spend consistently at this level if they are to compete at the top of the table. They will be in the Europa League this season but it is the Champions League that attracts the really big names.
With such an influx of new players it should be remembered who has left the club – and who looks likely to join them. Selling RomeluLukaku may have recouped nearly all the money the club has spent in the close season so far but his absence will be keenly felt. Koeman has been reported to have said he wants a big target man in the side – and both Olivier Giroud and Christian Benteke have been linked with a move – but whoever comes in will have a long way to go to replace the departed Belgian. And with Ross Barkley also on his way out of the club the new boys will need to hit the ground running.
Fairy Tale Return
Wayne Rooney returning to Goodison after a trophy-filled 13 years at Manchester United may be one for the script writers but he has just come off a tough season where even his most ardent supporters were questioning whether he still had what it takes for the Premier League. In reality he will probably not be a regular starter this season but Koeman will be hoping that a little bit of the old magic will return.
Jordan Pickford hasn’t actually played a full season of top flight football yet but much is expected of the former Sunderland keeper this term. The Black Cats were terrible last season and it was only due to Pickford and Defoe’s displays that they were not even worse. Pickford is a perfect example of the great potential this Everton side have now – but he still has a lot to learn and his purchase is somewhat of a gamble.
The Everton side that take the field in the second week of August will no doubt look much different to the one that ended last season and Koeman has given the team a new look down the middle of the park with defender Michael Keane behind Davy Klaassen. The Burnley defender burst into the England squad last season and will probably be replacing Phil Jagielka at the back while Klaassen led a very impressive Ajax team to the Europa League final and will be expected to take over the middle of the park for Everton.
A Work in Process
Even if Koeman does add Benteke, Giroud, or even Sigurdsson to his list of new recruits, a Champions League spot still looks out of their reach this season. The top sides have also recruited new faces and although the amount of money spent suggests that Europa League qualification is the minimum required, even that is in no way guaranteed with the competition they face.