There were some bumps and bruises along the way but Marco Silva has successfully navigated his first season in charge of Everton.
The Toffees’ horrendous mid-season patch was book-ended by a decent start and a very impressive finish which saw Silva’s men take 13 points from a possible 15 at home to Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Burnley without conceding a goal.
This has shown what Silva’s Everton could really look like next season – a far cry away from the slow, turgid football on offer at Goodison Park under Sam Allardyce – but to maintain these high levels, Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright must back their manager, adding more depth and quality over the summer.
And so, we’ve had a look at five different sources to suggest five possible transfer scenarios the club are expected to encounter. But who are the sources, and what did they have to say about Everton’s prospects in the market?
Read on to find out!
1. What the manager wants
Silva has already cooled speculation linking Everton with Inter Milan and former West Ham midfielder Joao Mario, saying: “Joao Mario is an Inter player and there’s nothing else to it. He was my player, I was the one who gave him his debut for Sporting [CP].
“He’s had a very good season, he’s at a high level for the club he plays, but right now he’s not on the table.”
He has also claimed Everton will be ‘realistic’ in their targets, knowing that an eighth-placed finish simply won’t be enough to attract the calibre of player, say, an Arsenal or Man Utd could.
However, Silva did hint at the club trying to secure loanees Kurt Zouma and Andre Gomes on permanent deals. Both were hugely impressive at Goodison Park last season and played key roles in their strong end to the campaign. The fact that they’re on loan means they will have to part with sizeable sums just to stand still but, of course, that’s better than going backwards or having to look for less familiar players.
A host of clubs are being linked with Gomes, including Premier League rivals Spurs, while Chelsea’s potential transfer ban could make the Zouma deal complicated. For the most part, Silva is remaining respectful and not allowing himself to be drawn on questions regarding players from other clubs – even those on loan at Everton.
But as Silva said himself: “The starting point for us will be to keep the same level we have inside because just in this way we can start to improve.”
2. A view from the press box
It is, of course, vital that Everton do their best to keep hold of Zouma and Gomes but even with them, one area the Blues sorely lacked in last season was goals.
The Evening Standard‘s chief football correspondent, James Olley, believes Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck could be the man to fill the long-standing gap left by Romelu Lukaku.
Welbeck spent much of last season sidelined with a horrific ankle injury but following successful surgery, is now back in full training and scored a hat-trick in a recent behind closed doors game, ready for Arsenal’s Europa League final against Chelsea.
But on the final day of the Premier League season, the ex-Man Utd man stood alongside Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey as Arsenal honoured players set to leave the club and although the likes of Newcastle United and Wolves are also being linked, Olley has Everton in pole position to sign Welbeck on a free transfer.
At 28, Welbeck doesn’t quite fit with the profile of player Marcel Brands and Silva are bringing into the club at the moment but the lack of transfer fee may mean they make an exception.
Welbeck’s touch and ability have often been called into question but with 16 goals in 42 England caps, there is a clinical player in there. If he can maintain his pace following his injury, Welbeck could at least, be a step in the right direction up front for Everton.
3. An ex-player’s thoughts
Silva may have hinted at keeping hold of Zouma, but former Everton and Rangers left-back Michael Ball believes the French defender should be the club’s top priority.
Only the Premier League’s top four conceded fewer goals than Everton last season and Ball believes Zouma played a key role in that defensive solidarity, making him the most important target for the summer window, followed by tying down fellow loanee Gomes and midfielder Idrissa Gueye, who came close to joining PSG in January.
“Securing Kurt Zouma on a permanent deal has to be the priority this summer because the back four has looked really solid with him in it and he’s a man mountain,” Ball told the Liverpool Echo.
“The deal is complicated by Chelsea’s situation but, fingers crossed, it can be done.
“After that, getting Andre Gomes to sign a long-term deal has to be next on the list and then making sure Idrissa Gueye will be at the club next season, because he continues to be linked with rival clubs.
“Zouma and Gomes have said they have enjoyed their time at Everton and they have played most weeks, that counts for a lot and so as long as their families are happy too, then that gives the club a really good chance of signing them.”
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4. The neutral’s tip
With a big summer clear out expected at Goodison Park, Everton are going to need to bring in some numbers.
Former England defender and pundit Danny Mills believes the Toffees should put a bid in for Manchester City’s Fabian Delph in order to bolster their midfield options.
“Will he want to go?” Mills said on Talksport. “He might just sit out and wait and then go out on a free transfer – he could perform at a lot of clubs in the Premier League.”
When asked who he could sign for, Mills continued: “An Everton. Would he fit into their system? He can play that role and allow other people to go and play.”
Delph was part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad that finished fourth in last summer’s World Cup but made just 20 appearances for City last season as they sealed the domestic treble.
At 29, Delph is another player who would lie outside of Brands and Silva’s ideal target age but Pep Guardiola’s conversion of him to a left-back means they would be getting their hands on a very versatile player. He would be just as capable of filling in for Lucas Digne as he would Idrissa Gueye or Gomes – if he stays – and with just one year left on his current City deal, they could land themselves a nifty squad player for a cut-price.
5. Squawka predicts
Jonas Lossl is confirmed to be arriving on July 1, as back-up to Jordan Pickford but you’re not here for reserve goalkeepers, are you?
We’ve already mentioned Everton need a striker but they also need a right-winger to replace Theo Walcott, whose form nosedived last season. Ademola Lookman just doesn’t seem to be in Silva’s plans long-term so a target needs to be brought in. That target may well be Lyon’s Bertrand Traore.
The Daily Mail have already linked Traore – who has 29 goals in 90 games so far for Lyon, including two against Everton during the 2017/18 Europa League group stages – with a move to the Toffees.
Although he hasn’t been overly prolific to date, Traore can play on either wing, through the middle or just behind the striker, with his versatility giving Silva a plethora of options for his team setup.
Moreover, at just 23, he perfectly fits the profile of player both Silva and Brands are looking to bring into the club at the moment. Last summer, Everton brought in Richarlison, Bernard, Zouma, Gomes, Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina, with not a single one over the age of 25.
Meanwhile, they let the likes of Kevin Mirallas, Ashley Williams, Cuco Martina and Yannick Bolasie all go out on loan, with each of those four players aged 29 or over and likely to leave permanently this time around.
The Blues will reportedly face competition from rivals Liverpool for Traore’s signature, meaning the choice will boil down to just how much the player backs himself against how much guaranteed football he wants. But with Moshiri’s millions and a big summer clear out expected, at least Evertonians know they won’t miss out on any player on financial grounds.
Traore and Richarlison’s pace and dribbling skills on either wing would provide Everton with a quick, dynamic threat out wide. Through the middle, the Toffees have also been linked with Aleksandar Mitrovic, who notched 11 goals in 39 games for a wretched Fulham side last term.
Fulham don’t want to sell but, according to Sky Sports, Mitrovic is intent on staying in the Premier League next season. The Serbian is a more modern, tamed version of Everton legend Duncan Ferguson and his blend of strength and aggression would undoubtedly be a great caveat for Richarlison and Traore out wide.
The 24-year-old registered more headers on target (20) in the Premier League last season than any other player and although he was quite wasteful – missing 15 big chances, only six players missed more – Mitrovic’s aerial prowess would be a dream for the delivery of Digne.
That increased, premium service from the French left-back, as well as from Gylfi Sigurdsson, should see him improve on a modest 34.87% big chance conversion rate.