Will Everton make big-money signings or focus on holding onto their prized assets?
As the dust settles on what was a mixed 2014/2015 season for Everton, it is time to look forward and assess what could happen over the summer. The Toffees may have failed in their efforts to replicate the wonderful campaign in 2013/2014 where they came so close to a top four finish, but Roberto Martinez’s men did themselves and the club proud through an impressive Europa League adventure which was ended at the Last 16 stage against Dynamo Kiev.
Comprehensive victories against Wolfsburg and Lille will have undoubtedly improved Everton’s profile across the continent which may help in their quest to bring in new faces during the summer transfer window, but it could be far more important for Martinez to focus on keeping his star players. The signing of Romelu Lukaku last summer was a huge statement of intent from a club that very rarely splash the cash in preference of a more conservative approach, but with yet another major increase in revenue via the new £5 billion television deal, the money may well be there for Martinez to be more expansive. However, keeping the best players and continuing to build a team around them could well be Martinez’s main priority if the big guns come calling to Goodison Park with money to burn.
Is another big money transfer likely?
Spending £28 million on bringing Lukaku, who was simply outstanding during his first season at the club on loan from Chelsea where he almost fired Everton towards Champions League football, is an indication that Martinez is willing to spend big money if, or when, the opportunity arises. While the Blues made a big impact in the Europa League, being unable to offer European football to any potential summer targets may be a problem, particularly if teams who are competing in next season’s Europa League or Champions League. This should not prevent Everton from being able to attract players who have the quality to perform in the Premier League, but adding more numbers to the squad may become a necessity.
Allowing Sylvain Distin, who has been a wonderful servant to Everton over the last six years, to leave the club creates a considerable void at the heart of the defence that should be replaced by a strong, commanding centre-back; the need for more defenders may strengthen if Antolin Alcaraz and Luke Garbutt also depart. Links with Scott Dann, Virgil Van Dijk and Jonny Evans are encouraging signs that Martinez is not only searching for new recruitments, but players of good quality who would certainly improve the team. Everton are also believed to be close to securing a deal for out-of-contract midfielder Tom Cleverley; if this turns out to be true, then fans will be pleased that Martinez is taking a pro-active stance by trying to get business done early in order to take Everton to the next level.
Everton have proved their resilience in recent years to rebuff any advances for their best players to not only avoid becoming a selling club to the Premier League big guns, but also preserve the foundations that have been built at Goodison Park. Leighton Baines was undoubtedly the most high-profile battle that the club endured with Manchester United, but while the Toffees showed their metal and came out on top on that occasion, there are fears that the likes of Seamus Coleman, John Stones, Ross Barkley and Lukaku may be targeted during the summer transfer window. The latter has already voiced his desire to play at the highest level and challenge for trophies, and while it is natural for a 22-year-old to have such ambitions, it may create a difficult scenario if big clubs begin to show an interest in Everton’s star striker. Kevin Mirallas and James McCarthy are other names that have been linked with moves away, but while this may turn out to be mere speculation, it highlights the potential test that may lay ahead for Martinez in his quest to keep all his best players at the club.