Everton have made a number of significant moves in the transfer market this summer in their bid to break into the top four of the Premier League. The Toffees have invested almost £100 million over the course of the summer to land some of the most talented young players in England.
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Romelu Lukaku is poised to leave the club, with his sale to Manchester United expected to cover the vast expenditure of the Merseysiders. Ronald Koeman’s men will not be deterred by the loss of their star man as Wayne Rooney has transferred in the other direction back to his boyhood club. With Rooney signing on a free, the Toffees will have ample cash to venture further into the transfer market to boost their firepower, despite the presence of England’s all-time record goalscorer.
As a result, Koeman’s men could make a substantial improvement on their seventh-place finish of last term to dislodge United, Manchester City and Liverpool’s dominance of the North West. With online football betting already a habit for many, Everton might be worth a punt at 29/1 to finish as the North West’s top dogs given the work they’ve done this summer to improve key areas of their side.
Perhaps their best business came between the sticks to secure the signature of Jordan Pickford. The 23-year-old was the only positive to emerge from Sunderland’s miserable 2016-17 campaign as they were relegated from the top tier under the tenure of former Everton boss David Moyes. Despite the Black Cats’ atrocious campaign, Pickford put in several fine displays to earn a call-up to the England squad for the first time.
Everton had issues in goal last term, with Joel Robles and Maarten Stekelenburg struggling throughout, as neither could nail down a permanent position in the side. Pickford has the talent to be a regular for the Toffees and the Three Lions for the foreseeable future, making his £30 million move a bargain.
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With Phil Jagielka starting to show signs of age and the departure of John Stones last season, Everton moved to strengthen their back four with another promising player in the form of Michael Keane. The 24-year-old was a rock at the back for Burnley in their first season back in the Premier League and rightly earned a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad, making his debut in the Three Lions’ defeat against Germany in March.
He has the talent to improve at the heart of the Toffees’ backline and become the central figure of the spine of the side along with Pickford, Tom Davies and potentially Ross Barkley for the seasons to come.
One of the potential issues that Koeman and his side will face next term is the search for goals. Lukaku has been a dominant force in front of the net for the Toffees since 2013, notching 68 strikes in four seasons. The Belgian has been criticised for his record of scoring against the top six sides in the league, with only four of his 25 strikes last season coming against the elite outfits of the division.
However, his record against the lesser sides in the Premier League has been nothing short of sensational, which is what either United or Chelsea will benefit from next season.
Koeman has bolstered his strikeforce with Sandro Ramirez, who scored 14 goals for Malaga last season. He will take time to adjust to the Premier League, but with only Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin behind him in the pecking order, the Toffees will need another frontman. Rooney may not be the answer as he scored only five goals last season and eight the campaign before. It may take another significant investment from either the Premier League or abroad to fill the void if they are to challenge their North West rivals at the top of the division.