Why Everton are in danger of repeating same transfer mistakes

Everton have a new director of football, but would they be falling into similar traps if they bring Marcos Rojo to Goodison Park?

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Action Images via REUTERS/John Clifton

Everton’s transfer window was an unequivocal disaster in 2017, and their 2016 one wasn’t much better. In losing their prolific goalscorer and talisman Romelu Lukaku last summer, Everton suffered a blow that probably didn’t get enough recognition.

Nonetheless, their strategy for reinvesting the large fee they received for the Belgian looked questionable from the off and it wasn’t a massive shock when the fallout led to both the manager and director of football, Steve Walsh, losing their job at some stage over the course of the season.

They need only look at the example both Tottenham and Liverpool set in 2013 and 2014, respectively, after losing Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez.

Everton’s 2017 and 2016 summers were characterised by lavish spending on well known Premier League players such as Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Williams, Yannick Bolasie, Gylfi Sigurdsson and the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott were added in the January windows.

Action Images via REUTERS/John CliftonWhile some – such as Pickford, Keane, and to an extent Walcott and Rooney – seemed defensible on their own, as a collective strategy they combined to be a costly mistake.

With Premier League TV deals skyrocketing, English clubs are no longer at the mercy of any potential buyers for their biggest names, and can thus demand excessive fees that go beyond what the player’s value would be in another league. Keeping your recruitment reach national will come at a financial cost.

The transfer of Sigurdsson was the biggest example of their lack of creativity. The Icelandic star was Swansea’s key man, and his goals and assists were pivotal in them staying up in 2016/17. But on closer inspection, his skillset looked like a poor fit at Everton.

A number ten who is a great ball striker, and a set piece specialist, Sigurdsson would have to compete with Rooney and fellow new signing Davy Klaassen to play his best position. Considering his age of 27 and the mammoth fee of around £45 million, it was a terrible deal for the buying club. 

In comparison, another creative number ten with a great set piece delivery, who is capable of scoring from range, Ryad Boudebouz, went to Real Betis for around £7 million.

But with Marco Silva in as manager and a new director of football Marcel Brands, Everton fans will hope the club have learned from the mistakes of the previous year. How do the signs look so far? 

Action Images via REUTERS/John CliftonWith Everton splashing the cash for Richarlison, a Premier League forward who scored just five goals last season, people could be forgiven for rolling their eyes. But on closer inspection, such a fee, reported to be at least £40 million, doesn’t seem as outlandish for the Brazilian’s talents.

While he only scored five goals last season, the recently turned 21-year-old’s expected goals figure (xG) was closer to 11. For predicting a player’s goal-scoring in a future season, their xG in the previous season is a better predictor than their number of actual goals.

Given his age, physical attributes, and the fact he’s going to a better team, it wouldn’t be surprising were Richarlison to breeze past double figures in the league next season.

The links to Marcos Rojo, however, paint a different picture. The Argentine can play centre back or fullback but £30 million for a player who was rarely a permanent fixture in the United starting lineup is the type of financial risk Everton have been making unsuccessfully over the last couple of years. 

The 28-year-old also suffered a cruciate ligament injury in 2017, and after playing less than 1000 minutes last season, there have to be doubts about whether he is at the same level he was before the injury.

REUTERS/Tatyana MakeyevaWith the Sun also suggesting Danny Welbeck could be on Everton’s radar the signs Everton’s transfer strategy is operating with as little creativity as ever are mounting up. Given they have only made one transfer so far this summer – a good one at that – and presumably will make more, it’s not too late to reverse the trend and find good value bargains elsewhere in the market.

But at the moment, they’re in danger of changing the upper management – those in charge of recruitment – while still perusing the same flawed transfer process.

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