The recent additions of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan, and James Rodriguez have sparked something of a competitive revival at Goodison Park.
In the summer transfer window of 2020, Everton arguably had the most productive recruitment strategy of any Premier League club. Since Farhad Moshiri bought a stake in the club back in February 2016, the Toffees haven’t had the best track record in the market. Having spent on the likes of Davy Klassen, Theo Walcott, and Yannick Bolasie in the past four years, expectations were growing among the Blues faithful.
However, despite the investment, on-field results didn’t follow. Thankfully, under Carlo Ancelotti, the Toffees appear to have a sense of much-needed direction in the transfer window. The recent additions of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan, and James Rodriguez have sparked something of a competitive revival at Goodison Park. So, let’s consider what will count as success for Ancelotti’s Everton.
Rightly Lauded for Sensible Investment in Squad Weaknesses
Having been criticised for their recent shortcomings from a recruitment standpoint since 2016, the Blues finally appear to have successfully navigated the market. According to Transfermarkt, Ancelotti spent less than £45 million on his three big-name midfield signings, with Rodriquez arriving on a free transfer. Perhaps most importantly, the opening matches of the 2020-21 season have showcased that the three can operate together in a hard-to-beat setup.
Against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the new Premier League campaign, the Toffees controlled proceedings as their new-look midfield took centre stage. Although the visitors enjoyed fractionally less possession, they limited Spurs to nine shots, six less than Everton registered. Following the one-goal win, Rodriquez claimed the Man of the Match award on his debut for his creativity, while Allan and Doucoure dictated the play from deeper areas of the pitch.
After an unbeaten start to the Premier League in the first four matches, the Goodison Park faithful can be forgiven for having lofty ambitions for the rest of the campaign. As of October 7th, Everton are currently 12/5 with Betsafe odds to finish the season in the top four.
How Far Can the Current Group Go?
While, of course, it’s pivotal to focus on the upcoming season before planning for the next, the Blues’ strategy of buying ready-made stars may not provide them with the same longevity as investing in up-and-coming talents. However, it’s arguable that this policy has already been tried on Merseyside with the likes of Sandro Ramirez, who recently left the club to join Huesca on a free transfer.
With Allan, Doucoure, and Rodriguez all aged between 27 and 29, each is entering the peak of their career. That, however, shouldn’t be viewed as a long-term negative. Instead, it gives the Toffees the best chance of their first trophy since 1995.
In turn, breaking into the Champions League spots and winning a domestic trophy over the coming seasons will unquestionably be a success for Everton. Qualifying for Europe will provide the Blues with a foundation to consistently attract further top-class players, particularly if Ancelotti remains at the helm. In this regard, the three-time Champions League winner is pivotal to the Toffees short-term success, with his track record being a testament to his trophy-winning capabilities.
A Team on the Ascendancy
While attentions have been on the newly-crowned Premier League winners, Liverpool, Everton’s evolution under Ancelotti on Merseyside has gone under the radar. Although they don't perhaps have the depth to challenge on all fronts, this rapid progression gives reason for long-term optimism. Because of this, teams should be starting to stand up and take notice of Everton.