WHAT a transfer window it’s been for the Toffees so far.
They’re certainly not messing around when it comes to signing players, as they have nearly broken the £100m mark.
So far, manager Ronald Koeman has snapped up Jordan Pickford (Sunderland), Michael Keane (Burnley), Sandro Ramirez (Malaga), Davy Klaaseen (Ajax), Henry Onyekuru (Eupen) and of course most recently, he has resigned Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) to his boyhood club.
A few more players are likely to come in as well, with Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson said to be edging closer to a move.
But the real question is … can they challenge for a Champions League spot for the first time since 2004-05 this season?
Here’s five reasons why I think they will!
1. Ronald Koeman knows what he’s doing.
Make no mistakes about it, the Dutchman is trying to build an empire at Goodison Park.
Koeman is busy constructing a squad that he believes could push for the top four and he’s been doing some real shrewd business in the transfer window, just like he did at Southampton when signing the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Jordy Clasie to St. Mary’s Stadium.
Regarded as a very underrated manager by many, the 54-year-old guided the Saints to their highest ever Premier League finish in 2015-16, sixth place, where they also finished the season with their highest ever Premier League points total of 63 and qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Europa League. So he certainly knows how to get the best out of his players.
He’s adding some real squad depth to this Everton side with the likes of Davy Klaassen, James McCarthy, Ross Barkley, Tom Davies, Gareth Barry, Idrissa Gueye and of course Wayne Rooney competing for a place in the centre of the park next season.
The signing of Michael Keane from Burnley will also be a good one for the future as he could be the ideal replacement for fellow centre back Phil Jagielka in my opinion, whilst new goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford will certainly provide stern competition for Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles for the starting position in net.
The key to any great team is talent and class both on the pitch and off it, and it seems as though Everton and bringing more and more of that into the club at the moment.
2. Youngsters who will get game time.
Everton’s academy has been famed for creating some top talents over the past few years and it seems that things are still the same now.
Over the years, they’ve brought through the likes of Ross Barkley (Still there), Jack Rodwell and Victor Anichebe (both Sunderland), Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal), Leon Osman (fee agent) and of course most notably, Wayne Rooney.
The amount of promising youngsters they have coming through now is arguably at its greatest yet.
You have Tom Davies and Mason Holgate, who played quite a few first teams games last season. Then you also have the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jonjoe Kenny and Kieran Dowell (who were part of the England under-20 squad who won the World Cup last month).
Add those lot, players such as Ademola Lookman (who was bought from Charlton last year), highly rated winger Henry Onyekuru and goalkeeper Jordan Pickfrod, who have both just come in, and it’s fair to say that Everton look as though they could be sorted for the future already, should they hang on to all these players.
Koeman is a manager who will give them the chance to shine as proven with Davies and Holgate last season, so unlike say at Chelsea, these young players will likely be given the opportunity to play first team football often and be allowed to flourish because of that.
3. Midfield masterclass.
Everton now have some serious squad depth in their midfield too, with a mixture of experience and youth.
Idrissa Gueye was impressive last season playing in the defensive midfield position and was second only to the PL’s player of the season, N’Golo Kante in terms of interceptions and tackling. He’ll likely play that role in the starting eleven again this season. He’ll have Morgan Schneiderlin, who again is a very underrated player, competing against him in that role. Muhamed Besic also provides decent cover for these two if needs be.
Ahead of him, you’ll most probably see new boy Davy Klaassen start, and he’ll be spraying passes around the pitch like there’s no tomorrow just as he did at Ajax. He’s a fantastic creative player.
I think hot prospect Tom Davies will keep his place in the side despite some strong competition from the likes of James McCarthy and Gareth Barry, who although they are far superior in terms of experience, are certainly not as good at making an impact as the 19-year-old has been.
In attacking midfield, they have Wayne Rooney back at the helm and if they keep Ross Barkley then it’ll be between those two for a starting place I think.
Out wide, if they were to use wingers, they have the rapid Kevin Mirallas and Prem veteran Aaron Lennon, as well as the skilful Yannick Bolasie, once he returns from an injury that has kept him out of action since the beginning of the year.
Here’s how I think they’ll line-up as a team next season (judged off current signings and squad members): Pickford, Coleman, Williams, Keane, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Klaassen, Rooney, Barkley and Ramirez. Subs: Stekelenburg, Jagielka, Holgate, McCarthy, Barry, Bolasie, Lookman.
4. Return to the Roo-ts.
This could go either way of course, but I genuinely think Wayne Rooney’s return to his former club could be one of the deals of the summer.
Having won everything there is to win at Manchester United and became one of England’s most decorated players in the process, there’s arguably not much else Wazza can do to further establish himself and his career.
However, I think helping the club that gave him the chance when he was just 16 years old/the club he has supported all his life reach the Champions League spots would rank very highly in his personal achievements if they managed to pull it off.
He’ll most likely play in behind the striker (which at the moment is Sandro Ramirez but I think they’ll bring in someone even better with the Lukaku money) and he could be a very influential player to the side.
Everton fans seem happy to have him back at the club (despite the fact that they used to call him Judas!) and he’ll no doubt give his all for the club that truly has his heart.
5. Crucial last 10 games of the season.
Having a look at the Blues fixtures list, it seems as though if they can get themselves into a good position by the beginning of March.
On paper, the last ten games of their season look fairly easy going (as easy as it can be anyway!) with two home tests against Man City and Liverpool, both of whom will also be battling to get top four, looking the toughest of the lot.
These are their final ten matches:
March – Burnley (A), Brighton (H), Stoke City (A), Manchester City (H).
April – Liverpool (H), Swansea (A), Newcastle (H), Huddersfield (A).
May – Southampton (H), West Ham (A).
Very doable end to the season if you ask me, but of course you can never tell.
With renewed hope and a whole host of new players coming into the club it seems that for the first time in a long time, Evertonians will be dreaming of clinching a place in the top four next season.