Five transfers to turn Toffees into top four Premier League contenders next term
Holly Thackeray March 8, 2016
Five signings for Everton ascent
Punters must be dizzy with Toffees transfer rumours after the partial Farhad Moshiri takeover of Everton sent tabloids into a frenzy.
If ever one club was ripe for investment, though, it the Goodison Park outfit, as they have been consistently tipped over the past few terms to become regular Premier League top four challengers.
Boasting an already strong spine, and arguably a starting XI to compete with current rosters at Northwest rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, the Merseyside blues (25/1 outsiders with Coral for a top six Premier League finish this season) just required greater financial backing; now they have it.
Toffees tactician Roberto Martinez previously told press: “I set the bar really high, I wanted a winning team and I wanted to get into the Champions League and that is still the case.
“With a new investor and fresh blood into our club all of a sudden you have a new opportunity to get to those aspirations quicker.”
A top four finish will undoubtedly be the target next term and, for the past month the Merseysiders have been linked with all and sundry as they reportedly prepare for a summer splurge alongside increased Premier League TV revenue. So, Coral writers have come up with five players the Toffees could tempt to help achieve their aim…
Trusty but ageing USA stopper Tim Howard has taken some hits this season, and is widely expected to exit Everton in the summer, with a return to his homeland mooted.
A few fumbles aside, the 37-year-old has kept the Goodison Park posts well protected over the years and any vacancy in net could prove to be the most crucial to fill.
Butland’s best saves:
Man Utd and Liverpool may also be in the market for a new number one, so the Toffees most move quickly and shop locally to secure Stoke City’s superb Jack Butland before the England understudy stopper pens a new deal.
Everton do well with homegrown heroes and, though the Potters goalie will likely command a heftier price than long-linked Cardiff City custodian David Marshall, Butland would represent a cut above in quality.
To lure this keeper from Mark Hughes and the Potters’ project, however, Everton will need to flaunt their lofty ambitions.
Assuming centre half starlet John Stones is as good as sold this summer, the Toffees must spend a large chunk of the rumoured £50m wedge expected from the defender’s auction on a top-draw rearguard replacement.
Despite his eye-catching distribution, the youngster has had his wobbles, and Everton require an experienced and no-nonsense backline marshall to put in Stones’ slot.
With 39 Premier League goals conceded in 28 outings, centre back should be the first port of call for change alongside a goalkeeper.
Where to find a commanding presence to compete with captain Phil Jagielka and new recruit Ramiro Funes Mori, then? Serie A, of course, where France-born Senegal international Koulibaly is causing a kerfuffle with Napoli.
View Koulibaly’s highlights:
Key to the Neapolitan team’s title challenge, 24-year-old Koulibaly has been imperious at the back, and his combination of physique, aerial domination and raw pace should help Martinez solve his crosses conundrum. Oh, and he’s not bad on the ball either, should the Catalan coach be concerned.
Shielding defence should be another top priority for Martinez, and there are few engine-room enforcers more suited to the Premier League than Zenit St Petersburg’s wily Witsel.
Matured with age at 27, adding the Belgian to Everton’s existing Red Devils ranks could be a masterstroke. Expensive? Perhaps, but not as tough to poach from Russia with just one year left on his contract.
Witsel in action:
At 35, Gareth Barry, one of the top performers for the Toffees, cannot go on forever. The Englishman’s contract expires next term and, with James McCarthy and Muhamed Besic both interrupted this campaign with injuries, it a position in need of investment.
No elite club has yet gambled on battle-axe Witsel, so he could be there for the taking if he fancies a chance in England.
Needless to say, much depends on whether Newcastle United stay up or slip through the Premier League cracks.
Should the Magpies suffer relegation, suitors will surely be circling for attacking midfielder Wijnaldum, who is the reigning Dutch footballer of the year.
Incredibly versatile, the ex-PSV Eindhoven playmaker has adapted easily to the English top-flight and could add more match-winning potential to Everton.
Wijnaldum’s best bits:
A threat on the flank or centrally, Wijnaldum would make a menacing contingent alongside Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu, Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon, with his bursting runs and nose for goal.
Of course, keeping a firm grip on goal-getter Romelu Lukaku should be the biggest concern in the marksman department for Martinez.
Yet, the gifted Belgian battering ram cannot play every game, and the Toffees need depth in dangermen beyond the likes of Arouna Kone if they are to truly challenge.
Latest reports are heavily linking the Merseyside club with a £23m swoop for Sporting Lisbon striker Slimani, who has gobbled a gargantuan 18 goals from 22 league games this season.
Slimani’s top strikes:
Everton may be searching for a forward to act as both a foil and support for lethal Lukaku but, should the sharpshooter start a bidding war in summer, the Toffees may do better to try for another of his compatriots instead.
Second only to sensational Zlatan Ibrahimovic for strikes in Ligue 1, Michy Batshuayi could represent a real bargain and better investment than Alegria international Slimani, as he continues to prove a real handful for both club and country.