January Transfer Blueprint: Everton

Howard and Lukaku have been key for Everton, but do they need more help? Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Howard and Lukaku have been key for Everton, but do they need more help? Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

***The Transfer Blueprint series details what each Premier League club should be looking for as the January window approaches. Comment below with your own thoughts about what each club should acquire***

Everton came into the season with hopes of playing stylish football that would carry them into the upper echelon of the Premier League. While their top-end talent has by and large, held up their end of the deal. The rest of the starting group has failed to deliver. As such, Roberto Martinez’s men find themselves languishing in the League’s 9th position with lots of work to do in the January window.

What They Should Buy: It’s a fair debate, but for me, Everton is still light in attack. I’m not a believer in Arouna Kone as either Romelu Lukaku’s backup or as the third attacking midfielder. He can be a useful substitute and maybe even a spot starter, but that’s all for me. As such, Everton must invest in some cover from Lukaku. The Belgian centre forward has been terrific on the year, but they could not withstand any injury to the hulking goal scorer.

They don’t need to splash a massive amount of cash on a substitute striker, but they do need some quality there. I’d go so far as to suggest they should try to add another physical presence who plays more similarly to Lukaku than Kone. This would prefer Martinez from having to drastically change his tactics in the case of an extended Lukaku absence.

The emergence of Gerard Deulofeu on the right has lessened their need to purchase more attacking midfielders. Ross Barkley has been great on the year behind the striker so there’s no need for any adjustment there. The real question becomes what can Everton do on the left side of attack.

I’m of the opinion, and apparently so is Roberto Martinez, that Kevin Mirallas still has a significant role to play for this team. He can be maddeningly selfish at times, but he’s still a super talent. Barkley in the middle, pulling the strings for Mirallas on one side and Duelofeu on the other could be devastating. Add in Aaron Lennon as a sub and you’ve got a very interesting attacking midfield. I’d worry more about integrating Mirallas into the side than purchasing outside help.

The defensive midfield definitely needs some attention though. James McCarthy can reasonably be expected to raise his performance, but I don’t think the same can be said for Gareth Barry. It may be that Father Time has caught up with Barry and he can’t function at the level required anymore. His Whoscored.com rating of 6.86 isn’t awful, but it’s not what they need to move up the table. Barry can be a useful squad player, but he can’t be relied upon to start every week any longer.

The defense was performing at a perfectly reasonable level, before the injury to Phil Jagielka. Ramiro Funes Mori has held up well, so far, but I wouldn’t bet on that staying the case. Everton would be well served to purchase a serviceable full back with Premier League experience to play alongside star John Stones. It wouldn’t hurt if they were on the younger side either since Jagielka is getting long in the tooth.

The return of Leighton Baines from injury will provide the team a boost as well. Brendan Galloway should be commended for the way he’s filled in, but he can’t provide service and stability like Baines. Nonetheless, they are all set at full back.

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What They Should Sell: While I’m on record as saying they should integrate Mirallas into the squad, if they aren’t, he should be on the transfer list. He’s too valuable a commodity to leave rotting on the bench. Especially considering Everton’s need to supplement their defensive midfield.

Outside of that, all they can really do is clear some of the deadwood from the squad. Muhamed Besic has been an absolute disaster so he wouldn’t be missed. I would even suggest trying to sell Steven Naismith if the right offer presented itself. He’s only contributed goals in one game on the season and I can’t see him supplanting the younger players already ahead of him. Again, if they can get a decent fee for the 29-year-old it would represent good business.

What They Will Do: Martinez has said publicly that he doesn’t expect the January window to be very busy for his squad and I see no reason not to take him at his word. I think they’ll move for another defensive midfielder but just to spell Barry, not oust him from the starting 11.

Unfortunately, I think they will stand pat otherwise. Despite what I see as obvious needs for another striker and central defender, I think Martinez sees solutions inside the squad. I have to respectfully disagree with the affable manager on that one.