Sensible Transfers: Everton (Summer 2019)


In this series, we will analyse teams, identify
problem areas, and suggest solutions in the form of incoming players. We won’t follow gossip, rumours or conjecture,
we don’t have inside information, and we’re not considering the brand value of players. Purely, their on-field performance, and their
suitability for the team in question. Today’s team is Everton. Welcome to sensible transfers. Marco Silva has now been at Everton over a
year and the side have shown progress transitioning from Sam Allardyce’s more functional tactics,
to Silva’s quicker, more attractive style of football. High pressing, wide overloads, and quick transitions
between attacking players seem to be the favoured approach, with Silva preferring a 4-2-3-1
in which the full backs generally push up to support inside forwards. Gylfi Sigurdsson plays off the central striker
as a second striker with creative responsibility and this is likely to remain the case though,
if Everton want to play more of a midfield three and increase their pressing, Tom Davies
could be deployed as a 10 ahead of a more combative double pivot, as happened in the
pre-season friendly against Sion. Everton have appointed Marcel Brands as Director
of Football, an astute appointment that should go some way to restore confidence in what
had been a haphazard approach that yielded good signings like Idrissa Gueye, Jordan Pickford,
and Michael Keane, alongside less astute buys like Sandro Ramirez, Davy Klaassen, Cenk Tosun,
and Nikola Vlašić– not necessarily bad players, but players who haven’t settled
or fitted in at the club. Having said that, Andre Gomes’ purchase
has raised some eyebrows due to the fee, and while Digne, Richarlison, and Bernard have
been successful, Everton still need work in certain areas. We’ve looked for players under 27 who have
racked up more than 800 minutes, so that there’s a reasonable data set and each player is either
entering their peak or is still a prospect. This is surely Everton’s key area for strengthening. Vlašić has departed for an undisclosed fee,
Tosun is still something of a mystery, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin has great potential
and is excellent in the air, but so far has failed to show that his undoubted skill set
can translate into a good minutes per goal rate. Everton need want a striker who can score,
hold the ball well, link with Sigurdsson and the wide attackers, provide a threat in the
air, and is smart enough to play in a quick, fluid attacking trident. Everton have reportedly already bid somewhere
in the region of £20-25m for Jean-Philippe Mateta, the highly rated 22 year old French
forward at Mainz. Mateta scored 14 non penalty goals from an
xG of 12.3 last season – he’s quick, physically strong, good in air, and is destined for a
level above Mainz. His managed 3.1 shots per 90 with a decent
38% accuracy last season, as well as 3.9 touches in the box and 3.8 dribbles per 90 at a success
rate of 46%. There’s a lot to like about a player with
a high ceiling who has passed through Mainz’s excellent scouting filter, although his link-up
play needs work as he can look a little clumsy. If Everton were to follow up this interest,
though, they would be bagging a good player who could become very good with the right
coaching. Our choice, though, is Basel’s 22 year old
Swiss striker Albian Ajeti. Strong, brave, and energetic, he scored 14
league goals last season from an xG of 16.04, the highest of Swiss Super League players
that fit our search parameters. He took 3.5 shots per 90 with 40% accuracy,
and also took 6.15 touches in the box per 90 – he’s involved more in the box than
in build-up, but that is as much Basel’s style as any limitations Ajeti might possess. When playing with his back to goal, his strength
allows him to hold off larger players and he always looks to peel off and run behind
having played the pass. In short, while his primary value is as a
goal-scorer, in a system that uses quick, short passes to link play he will adapt. He’s valued at 7 million Euro and would
likely be less expensive than Mateta. Full backs are intrinsic to Marco Silva’s
system, facilitating wide build-up when the inside forwards cut inside, supplying crosses
and allowing the creation of 2 v 1s high up the pitch. Lucas Digne, who always looked promising while
at PSG, has had a superb season, supplying four goals and four assists in the Premier
League. Seamus Coleman, with two goals and two assists
last season is hugely reliable, but 30 and has had injury issues in previous seasons,
although his longest spell out was for a fractured leg, which doesn’t indicate chronic issues. Nonetheless, with Jonjoe Kenny being allowed
to go on loan to Schalke, Everton could do with a promising right back who can challenge
Mason Holgate if he doesn’t join West Bromwich Albion on loan, and provide back-up to Coleman. Genk’s 22 year old Danish right back Joakim
Maehle looks a genuine prospect. He contributed three goals and four assists
last season and is a very attacking full back with a good crossing ability. He managed 2.26 deep completed passes or crosses
per 90 last season, as well as 9.1 progressive passes; running with the ball, he made 2.5
progressive runs and 3.8 dribbles per 90, with a success rate of 52%. Maehle is a proactive defender who looks to
push out and intercept, and relishes joining the attack, over-lapping regularly. Again, as with many modern full backs, his
defensive game needs some work, though he wins 60% of his defensive duels, but he has
the athleticism and attacking instinct to be a genuine threat. If Everton want a longer term solution who
could even be an upgrade on Coleman this season, though, they should look at our choice, Bayer
Leverkusen’s 25 year old Mitchell Weiser. Weiser is defensively good, winning 63% of
his 8.4 defensive duels per 90. He makes 7.4 interceptions per 90 when weighted
for the opposition’s time in possession, though for a 5ft10 player, his aerial defence
needs some work. He’s a dynamic attacker, making 4.3 crosses
per 90, 4.1 dribbles per 90 with a 51% success rate, and 1.5 progressive runs per 90. He also makes 2.48 deep completed crosses
or passes per 90, and 10.9 progressive passes. In short, he moves the ball forwards well
and intelligently, while not shirking his defensive duties. Weiser is the sort of player who will link
well with wide attackers, get forwards and play neat, quick passes, and provide crosses
into dangerous areas. In short, the sort of full back who would
work well in Everton’s system. Idrissa Gueye has been the most unqualified
success of Everton’s recent business, underpinning the team’s pressing style and putting up
defensive numbers that are really only rivalled by N’Golo Kanté in the league. However, such success has attracted significant
attention, not least from Paris Saint-Germain, and even if Gueye doesn’t depart this window,
Everton must prepare for his exit. The signing of Fabian Delph, a solid utility
midfielder who can also supply cover at left back, is perfectly sensible, but Brands and
Everton will be looking for someone who can fill the dynamic Senegalese midfielder’s
shoes in the next year. KV Kortrijk’s Hannes van der Bruggen could
be a fairly inexpensive option, currently valued at around 1.5 million Euro. He won 54% of his 8 defensive duels per 90
last season, making 7.2 interceptions and 11.7 recoveries per 90. He’s an unfussy player, making 49 passes
per 90 at 85% accuracy, spreading the play well and generally looking to keep the ball
moving than try anything too expansive. Our only question mark would be whether it’s
too much of a step up from Belgium’s top tier, but because of the type of player he
is, we think van der Bruggen could do a good job. Angers’ 24 year old French midfielder Baptiste
Santamaria is our choice, though, and even if Everton don’t secure him, he would be
a fine addition to the defensive midfield capabilities of a sub-top six team. Last season he made 5.6 interceptions and
10.5 recoveries, 1.5 clearances, and won 60% of his 9.1 defensive duels per 90. He’s 6ft and robust and keeps possession
ticking over well without being flashy, passing 40 times per 90 at 85%. Angers are a smart recruiting side, picking
the best talent from Ligue 2 and the lower tiers of French football; Santamaria was picked
up from Tours and is now worth around 6 million Euro. While his passing and first touch need a little
work, in every other respect he is exactly the sort of intelligent, combative player
who could thrive in the Premier League and add solidity to Everton’s midfield. Everton probably don’t just need players. Although the appointment of Marcel Brands
should herald a new, smarter era of recruitment, there are still concerns among the high number
of Everton fans who also seem to work in football data about the coaching staff and, in some
instances, Marco Silva as well. The Zouma situation is fluid – he apparently
wants to leave Chelsea and should be a consideration for Everton, finances permitting. There are also suggestions Ademola Lookman
may leave – this could leave the right wing options a little thin. But here is what our team would look like: Players who fit the sort of system that Silva
will use, addressing areas of weakness and building for the future – these are sensible transfers.

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