Activities of the 2017/2018 summer transfer has been littered with a sea of rumours, while this isn’t abnormal, many of the real deals will begin to manifest from the 1st of July when the transfer window officially opens. What is with little or no attention is the fashion with which Everton have been going about their business so far. May be I should let you in a little.
Goalkeeping : The Meaning of Pickford
Since the departure of Tim Howard, the Merseyside club have struggled to find the right peg to fill in Howard’s huge hole. The rotation between Joel Robels and Marten Stekelenburg has still not fixed their goalkeeping troubles. Everton conceded 44 goals last season, with an aggregate goal difference of 18, meaning they were able to get 66 goals past the goal line of their opponents during the term. The Merseyside club were the worst of the Top 7 as per position and goal difference but this was an improvement on the 2015/2016 season when 4 was their goal balance and finished in a disappointing 11th position. Yet Ronald Koeman believes the team can do a lot better; So, enters Jordan Pickford.
Pickford may have managed only 4 clean sheets with Sunderland in 31 appearances (29 in 2016/2017 and 2 in 2015/2016), the English youngster made 135 saves in the 2016/2017 season; only Tom Heaton of Burnley (145) had a better figure. Pickford had a 3.79 average saves per game and 2.20 average saves per goal. Considering the loose defense Pickford endured with the Black Cats, and the number of saves he pulled despite the team’s weaknesses, it will be less risky to conclude that Jordan Pickford’s best is yet to come. Though, only time will tell if Pickford eases through to the starting XI, but with his age (23) and his obvious potentials, I believe Everton may have made their signing of the summer.
Midfield: Isn’t Klaassen a worthy addition?
Davy Klaassen, 24, may not be the super star midfielder that the big teams are fighting over but he has been a consistent performer for the Eredivise giant, Ajax. Plus being the captain that helped the Dutch side to a second position, slipping narrowly by a point to the league winners, Feyenoord, as well as leading the team to their first European final in 2017 after 21 years.
The Dutch International is rated Very strongly as in Finishing, through balls, key passes and concentration as per Whoscored.com but he is weak in terms of defensive contribution. This notwithstanding, the former Ajax No.10 will definitely add experience and improve the goal conversion rate of the Merseyside, thereby improving their position on the league table and probably instilling confidence of dreaming a Europa League triumph come next season.
With Idrissa Gueye, Gareth Barry, Muhammed Besic, Morgan Schneiderlin and Tom Cleverley already in the defensive capacity from the centre of the pack, and Klaassen joining the likes of Tom Davies, Rose Barkley, Aaron Lennon and Kelvin Miralas in the offensive, it is principled to say that Koeman is only left to display his managerial craft to deploy these massive options to a result oriented midfield.
Forward: Preparing for Lukaku’s Absence
While it remains a rumour from the transfer tavern as usual, Romelu Lukaku has been heavily linked with a move to the Stamford Bridge Blues. With doubts already cast in the future of Chelsea striker, Diego Costa, Antonio Conte seems to be shopping for an equal or better replacement. Aside Costa’s recent drama of either moving to China or returning to Atletico Madrid, Chelsea have decided to offload the Brazilian’s fellow striker, Mitchi Batshuayi who have struggled to earn Conte’s nod in the starting XI. What this means for the Premier League champions is that the presence or absence of Costa wouldn’t deter their interest in landing a top striker, and Lukaku has been the most likely to return to the team that sold him to Everton at 30 million pounds two seasons ago.
Upon this background, Everton are already preparing for life without their star man, with their aggressiveness at capturing Malaga forward Sandro Ramirez. The former Barcelona striker has become a revelation at the Spanish outfit playing an important cog for the team through last season.
Ramirez, 21 have managed 14 goals and 3 assists in 28 appearances for the Spanish side. The Spanish international is rated highly in long shots, direct free-kicks, strength on the ball, through balls and passing as per Whoscored.com.
Should the deal go through, Ramirez will be a quality addition to the Goodison park’s forward which already has the likes of Gerard Deulofeu, Arouna Kone, Kevin Miralas, Yanick Bolasie and a young World cup winner, Ademola Lookman, all in the guise that Lukaku is gone. Who says this team isn’t ready for the 2017/2018 season?
This team already looks like such fit for the approaching season especially if they bolster their defensive strength too. Ronald Koeman also looks close to the ‘full moon’ team that will compete well in Europe next season without compromising performance at home duties.