Transfer Talk: Everton's summer so far
With the transfer window in full swing, ESPNFC's Everton blogger, Luke O'Farrell, discusses how Roberto Martinez's side are shaping up ahead of the new season.
IN -- Gareth Barry (Manchester City, free), Sam Byrne (Manchester United, free)
OUT -- Magaye Gueye (contract rescinded), Mason Springthorpe (released), Apostolos Vellios (Lierse, free), Lacina Traore (Monaco, loan expired), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, loan expired), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona, loan expired).
SUMMER TRANSFER WINDOW ASSESSMENTS
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Expected budget: Transfer windows are normally a nerve-shredding ordeal for Evertonians. Recent history reveals an all-too-familiar pattern: arrivals dependent on preceding departures forcing Everton to operate primarily in the twilight hours of the window.
This year, though, with the new TV deal boosting the coffers, not to mention significant sales (in terms of money received) in the past two windows, the financial picture is at least brighter.
The leap in broadcast revenue ends those dark days of sell-to-buy; manager Roberto Martinez has money to spend, though the exact figure is unclear. Nonetheless, with No. 1 target Lukaku valued at around 20 million pounds alone, Martinez requires considerable financial support to prevent the competition stealing a march this summer.
Rate your business so far:
4/10. The summer began in positive fashion: Seamus Coleman and Martinez agreed to new contracts, which tied their long-term futures to the Blues, but Goodison Park has seen little transfer activity to date.
Alternating between punditry obligations and scouting missions, Martinez's presence at the World Cup was perhaps a factor in that. Byrne, a Republic of Ireland international at Under-19 level, has arrived from the Manchester United academy, but the 18-year-old forward is more likely to join the Under-21 setup. He is one for the future, not a player ready for immediate first-team duty.
The other business thus far, admittedly an astute purchase, is the re-signing of Barry, with the midfielder completing a free transfer from Manchester City on a three-year deal. One of the standout players in the latest campaign, who formed an excellent partnership alongside James McCarthy, Barry adds much-needed experience, composure and quality to the midfield.
The key now is ensuring Barry is the first of several, as new players must settle quickly with the season less than four weeks away.
Who should be sold? Having trimmed the edges of the squad and cut out those who either flattered to deceive or failed to impress sufficiently, the emphasis is very much on adding to the squad.
Squad depth is a long-standing problem for Everton. For all the good work of his Goodison tenure, former manager David Moyes failed to address it, and while Martinez tackled it to an extent in his debut season, depth remains an issue warranting careful consideration, especially as Europe is back on the agenda for the first time since 2010.
The two obvious contenders for the exit door, Vellios and Magaye Gueye, have already said their goodbyes, and young goalkeeper Springthorpe followed suit. After that, Everton require as many bodies as possible, though a crop of highly rated youngsters might boost the numbers, should they impress in preseason.
Who should be signed?
Speaking to the official club website earlier this week, Martinez outlined his plans and the areas to improve: "We definitely want one midfielder and three attackers." The midfielder would appear to be Muhamed Besic, with Everton looking to finalise a move for the Bosnian midfielder valued at 4 million pounds. The move is a shrewd one -- Darron Gibson is prone to injury and Leon Osman is another year older -- for a player who impressed when given the unenviable task of man-marking Lionel Messi at the World Cup.
Elsewhere, Martinez remains keen on another former loanee, Traore. Despite a four-month stay blighted by injury, Traore clearly left an impression on Martinez, and another loan is a possibility.
Others linked include Brendan Galloway, who has informed his current club MK Dons of his desire to leave, and highly-rated Dundee United fullback Andrew Robertson.
Problem solving: What do you need?
With goalkeeper Tim Howard well established as the No. 1 and with plenty of options in defence -- aside from the right-back position, perhaps -- the defensive areas of the squad are well equipped for the season ahead.
Similarly, with Besic in the pipeline and Barry signed up, the midfield has various, versatile options. Therefore, as ever, the problem is a reliable source of goals. Having acquired one this past season in the shape of Lukaku, boosting the attacking ranks is of paramount importance.
Notwithstanding a clutch of young hopefuls on the periphery, Arouna Kone is the only senior forward at the club -- Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas represent slightly unorthodox alternatives better suited to other positions.
Lukaku again seems to be the solution to the problem, with Martinez prepared to play the waiting game, and the club thought to be confident of striking a deal for the Belgian youngster.
Although able to frustrate and excite, often in the same match, there is no doubt about the potential of Lukaku, who ended the past season with 16 goals in all competitions, at a rate of one every two games.
That said, whether Lukaku and Traore are the two arrivals, it is clear Everton require at least two forward players of proven quality if the club are to juggle domestic travails and European excursions.