Had Everton fans been told that Bayer Leverkusen and Crystal Palace wingers would be arriving this summer to join Rafa Benitez’s side, the excitement would have been incredibly high.
They desperately need wingers – and quality too.
Owner Farhad Moshiri is incredibly ambitious, which is best emphasized by the fact that he has approved spending in excess of £500million since becoming majority shareholder in 2016.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Damarai Gray (left) and former Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend (right) close in to wrap up summer moves to join Rafa Benitez at Everton
Asmir Begovic (left) is close to making the move to Merseyside from Bournemouth on a free
Benitez was pragmatic in his first press conference as Everton boss regarding transfer spending
Money seemed no object. It was 20 million pounds here and then 20 million pounds there, until hundreds of millions were wasted.
When Crystal Palace and Bayer Leverkusen come to mind, fans may have been expecting Wilfried Zaha, who has been associated with Goodison Park in the past, and 23-year-old star Leon Bailey.
Those two would probably have cost at least £80 million. Instead, Benitez has gone for Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend, together for a much more modest £1.7million.
For those who dream of Zaha and Bailey, there is a crushing sense that Benitez’s early arrivals are disappointing. That can be quite tough for two players who can both boast Premier League experience and tackle a problem area on this side. But there is also a growing awareness that a more frugal and pragmatic approach is lurking.
EVERTON’S TRANSFER EXPENSES (2016-)
2016 – £77.40m
2017 – £182.88m
2018 – £89.82m
2019 – £108.9m
2020 – £67.38m
TOTAL – £526m
NET EXPENSES – £256 million
Figures according to Transfermarkt
“The reality is that the manager has an important opinion,” Benitez said in his opening press conference as Everton boss, when asked about his role in transfers.
“You have to work in the context with a football director, the board and financial constraints.
“If we can add players who are good for us, that’s the goal.
“We need to improve the players we have and have good communication between everyone who works here. And we have to manage the financial constraints and still be ambitious.’
Much in that statement was open to interpretation. Talk about a ‘reality’ and ‘managing’ within the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules. And yet remain ‘ambitious’ all the while.
In the years leading up to the Moshiri era, which took control in 2016 after selling his stake at Arsenal, Everton often spent little but maximized his results, largely under the supervision of David Moyes.
Only twice in the 10 seasons following Moshiri’s takeover have Everton finished outside the top eight and that was all achieved through smart acquisitions that had a major advantage.
It was an effective system – think Mikel Arteta who arrived from Real Sociedad in 2007 for under £3million, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Tim Howard all arriving for a combined £15million in 2007. Everton got 1,428 appearances from those four players. Tremendous value and a microcosm of the era in Goodison Park.
There are plenty of talented players that Benitez will need to improve on through his coaching
Owner Farhad Moshiri (right) is ambitious but has seen £500m lead to little progress
There are also countless others. People like Joleon Lescott and Marouane Fellaini sold for significant profits. The academy, a staple under Moyes, enjoyed the fruits of John Stones before selling to Man City for the north of £50million.
In an effort to consistently beat the ‘Big Six’, Moshiri’s ambition and willingness to spend his millions saw that frugal approach replaced by a much more flashy one – but not necessarily for the better.
The first three summers after Moshiri took control, Everton spent £346 million. The numbers were staggering and all claimed that this expenditure would in turn lead to mainstream European football. It was a quick way to bridge the gap, Moshiri probably saw it that way.
But more often than not costly mistakes have been made – take the summer leading up to the 2017-18 season, when over £60m was spent on Davy Klassen, Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun.
Those three combined scored 22 goals from their signing until the end of the 2020-21 season. Klassen was sold a year later after a disastrous move, Walcott’s deal expired before joining Southampton for free and Tosun is still walking the halls of Goodison.
Signals like Davy Klassen (left) and Theo Walcott (right) turned out to be expensive mistakes
An injury has curtailed Yannick Bolasie’s form and he has never managed to repay his £30million price tag
EVERTON’S BIGGEST DEALS IN MOSHIRI ERA
Jordan Pickford – £26 million
Michael Keane – £26m
Gylfi Sigurdsson – £45m
Richarlison – £35.28m
Yerry Mina – £27.23m
Alex Iwobi – £27m
Moise Kean – £27.5 million
Ben Godfrey – £24.75m
Figures according to Transfermarkt
For example, they made about £2.7 million per goal for that trio. It used to be cheaper to get Arteta.
Also look at 2019-20, four players arriving that summer for fees in excess of £20 million.
Alex Iwobi has yet to find his form, Moise Kean struggled before being loaned to Paris Saint-Germain where he did well, Andre Gomes had regular minutes but Jean-Phillipe Gbamin was hit hard by injury, stunting his progress hindered.
Well coached, Everton’s squad is, at least on paper, brimming with talent.
James Rodriguez is an elite talent, Ben Godfrey is on the cusp of the England senior team, Jordan Pickford is England’s No. 1, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes were with Barcelona, Lucas Digne is an established international with France, Kean showed his class at PSG, and so on.
But if the arrival of Asmir Begovic, replacing Robin Olsen as Pickford, Townsend and Gray’s No. 2, signals anything, it’s that the model of reckless spending for the sake of spending may be a thing of the past – and it should. not be like that. the worst.
Benitez is in for a fight to win over supporters, given his strong bond with rivals Liverpool.
His transfers need to improve the side and if he is allowed to spend money on sales any deal he makes will be scrutinized given the waste that has preceded him.
Continuing heavy losses in the last few sets of accounts have been out there for all to see in black and white and it’s wise to see Everton looking for a solution.
Will austerity jeopardize the ambition and ceiling of this squad? It’s unlikely given the talent Benitez has.
But while his hand is rummaging in the football bargain bin, he must find a few gems.
TRANSFERS EVERTON (AND MOSHIRI) WOULD LIKE TO FORGET
compensation – £20.25m
The striker came from Turkish side Besiktas in the January 2018 transfer window but is now an immovable object that the club has struggled to shift.
He signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with the Merseyside club, but scored just nine league goals in 49 games.
compensation – £20.25m
Walcott signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Everton when he joined from Arsenal in the winter of 2018.
While others fared worse, Walcott fell short of expectations at Goodison Park, playing for a season and a half before being loaned out to Southampton, where he ran his deal until it expired.
Unfortunately, getting an assist on his debut for the club and bringing in Oumar Niasse’s equalizing goal in a 1-1 home draw against West Brom was no sign of things to come.
compensation – £24.30m
In short: disaster.
Switched from Ajax in the summer of 2017 for the north of £23 million on a five-year contract.
Within a season he was sent out for just £12.15 million – and they may have been lucky his value hadn’t plummeted further.
Seven Premier League matches. Zero goals. Unfortunately.
compensation – £26.01m
Always a case of what could have been Bolasie after a right anterior cruciate ligament injury against Manchester United in December 2016, proved the beginning of the end.
He joined from Crystal Palace in August of that year but never found rhythm or a place at Everton after being sidelined at the ACL for a year.
Five loan periods did not attract a buyer and he saw his contract expire last month. Currently a free agent.