Everton manager Robert Martinez earned many plaudits for his eye-catching attacking approach last term, specifically his management of young players, and his ability to advance their game while still granting them freedom to express themselves on the pitch.
Under the leadership of Martinez -- a manager acknowledging mistakes as an unavoidable, essential part of a player's development -- the younger members of the squad thrived last season. Ross Barkley is perhaps the best example. Subtle changes became apparent as the season progressed. The dawdling in possession diminished, the decision-making sharpened and there was added maturity to his play.
Demonstrating his ability and know-how when it comes to improving players, Martinez has successfully removed the shackles that once weighed heavily on the younger players at Goodison Park. With his first season on Merseyside as testimony, it is clear there are no qualms about trusting the youngsters at his disposal, and that is why the impending arrivals of Muhamed Besic and David Henen generate such excitement.
Henen, set to sign next week from Anderlecht for around 1.5 million pounds, will link up with the under-21 setup, while Besic enters the first-team picture. The former spent last season on loan at Monaco B and is very much one for the future, while the latter has a more colourful history.
Despite domestic and international debuts at 18, Besic's rapid progress soon hit the buffers -- the midfielder departed Hamburg in 2012 with just three first-team appearances to his name. However, having rebuilt his career in Hungary, helping Ferencvaros to a third-place finish last season, this transfer hints at an individual slowly fulfilling the potential that made him Bosnia's youngest ever international, aged just 18 years and 68 days, in November 2010.
Something of an unexpected inclusion in his country's 23-man World Cup squad, having spent qualification firmly on the periphery, Besic suddenly faced the most thankless of tasks: national team coach Safet Susic claimed he chose Besic "because he is the only player here who can handle the job of man-marking Lionel Messi."
Performing admirably, stopping Messi (for the most part), Besic acquitted himself well against Argentina, particularly as this daunting assignment was his first competitive start for his country -- and only his 10th international cap overall.
Although Bosnia exited at the group stage, Besic played 90 minutes in each of their three matches, notching prominent statistics along the way. He made an average of 74.3 passes per game, completing 203 of 223 passes attempted, at an accuracy of 91 percent.
Displaying a strong positional sense, rarely moving from his central berth in front of the defence, Besic showed traits similar to those of the excellent James McCarthy. Covering upwards of 10 kilometres in each of Bosnia's three group games, Besic combined composure on the ball with a tremendous work-rate.
Another potential plus point, especially in a Blues' squad famed for its lack of depth in recent years, is Besic's versatility. Though excelling in central midfield at the World Cup -- and this would appear to be his primary role at Everton -- Besic played most of his football at centre-back in Hungary, even venturing occasionally to the right-back position.
Set to cost around 4 million pounds, this latest addition to the midfield, aided by the astute management of Martinez, has all the makings of a shrewd investment. For Martinez, following on from the re-signing of Gareth Barry, Everton now possess four genuine central midfielders suited to the current setup.
Moreover, in the space of three transfer windows, Martinez has transformed central midfield, which used to be an area of weakness, into one of the strongest aspects of the squad.