Funes Mori & Lennon are the only incomings on deadline day
“No 10” targeted but Blues fail in last minute Yarmalenko bid
Club deserve credit for keeping Stones but feat is overshadowed by inability to strengthen in key areas
Everton concluded a disappointing transfer window with confirmation of just two new faces on deadline day.
The protracted deal for Argentinian defender Ramiro Funes Mori was finally completed, although eyebrows have been raised at the £9.5m it took to land the centre half.
And with time ticking away on Tuesday evening, Aaron Lennon was officially confirmed as an Everton player. After a successful loan spell last season, a permanent deal looked unlikely with the Toffees unwilling to pay the £9m being demanded by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.
But with the North London club keen to offload the winger -and Everton struggling to recruit other targets- a deal in the region of £4.5m was agreed before the 6pm deadline.
It means Everton’s business in this summer’s transfer window ends with the incomings of Tom Cleverly, Gerard Deulofeu, David Henen, Mason Holgate, Leandro Rodriguez, Mori and Lennon.
Major outgoings include Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz, while promising talents Chris Long, George Green and John Lundrstum have moved on without making the grade at Goodison Park. Luke Garbutt (Fulham), Franciso Junior and Jonjoe Kenny (both Wigan Athletic) have also left on loan deals.
Blues fail to deliver on “2 attacking positions” promise
Despite seven players jetting into Finch Farm and just two notable senior players farmed out, there is a penetrating sense of disappointment at the conclusion of the summer transfer window.
Roberto Martinez stated on Friday (28th August) ahead of the trip to White Hart Lane that he was in the hunt for two attacking players. With the Rodriguez deal all but wrapped up and confirmed that same day, it’s unlikely Martinez was cute enough to imply retrospectively that the Uruguayan was one such mentioned.
“…the next two positions will be in the attacking positions”, the Spaniard told the club’s official website. “They will be attacking options in different positions.”
Has he delivered on that promise? A deflating, no. Lennon takes up one of those attacking positions, but the absence of the other is what appears to have upset Evertonians the most. And the question needs to be asked: was this other position a striker or the much coveted “No 10”?
The Liverpool Echo’s report that the Blues failed in a last ditch attempt to revive the Andriy Yarmolenko deal suggests the latter. Everton’s pursuit of the Ukrainian -and indeed a creative midfielder- seemed to be public knowledge and reports were positive on a deal being struck. Dynamo Kiev’s stance seems to be that Everton came in too late, and while there’s been no official line from the Toffees, would anyone be surprised if this was in fact true?
But the need for suitable competition -not to mention adequate backup- for Romelu Lukaku was arguably as important as the recruitment of a playmaker. An injury to the Belgian striker would leave Martinez with just Arouna Kone and Steven Naismith as senior stand-ins; and much can and is being said about their suitability to lead the line in his place.
Whatever the facts concerning Yarmolenko, the club (let’s not just pin this on Martinez) has failed to deliver what the manager set out to achieve. Two attacking positions promised. One winger brought in. It’s likely the elusive No 10 was the other position. Should it really have been a No 10 and a striker? Was Lennon a fail-safe so as not to be left empty handed? It’s likely we’ll never really know.
Keeping Stones was vital, and the club deserves credit
But let’s not forget the good work done by the club in this window. No one needs telling why keeping John Stones is exceptional business for the club. Not only do Everton get to hold on to the country’s finest young defender, but a shift in the power of transfer dealings has been made plain.
How long this shift in power lasts is yet to be seen, but a more lucrative TV revenue stream means that Everton do not have to sell their most valuable asset, even if that asset has expressed a desire to leave. Evertonians wanted their club to stand firm to the Russian oligarch and his unashamedly crass, power hungry coach and that’s exactly what Martinez and (eventually) Bill Kenwright did: the player is not for sale and will not be sold at any price. That Stones will wear the blue of Everton when Chelsea visit Goodison Park, is testament to the club’s resilience in not being backed into a corner by perceived, bigger clubs.
But this will not be enough for some fans, and rightly so. Everton were light in several areas before the window and remain so now it has shut. Lennon and Deulofeu give Martinez excellent options in wide areas, areas in which he is demonstrably keen to rotate personnel. And the versatility, composure and determination of Cleverly already looks to have won over large parts of the fanbase.
But the Blues are clearly still lacking in the departments of striker and attacking midfield, not to mention goalkeeper; where a serious lack of competition for the number 1 spot combined with an ageing international has compromised a position in which Everton once looked particularly reliable.
Everton still have a strong squad however, better in this Blue’s opinion than 75% of the rest of the Premier League. The quality possessed in the likes of Stones, McCarthy, Barkley, Lukaku, and topped up by the likes of Lennon and Deulofeu is enough to pose problems for most sides. But it cannot be escaped that Martinez and the Everton board have failed to deliver on their own expectations, and that fans will take little but disappointment from this window.