Everton set to make a big impact on the Premier League

"Ronald-Koeman-DSC 0039" by Wouter Engler - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ronald-Koeman-DSC_0039.jpg#/media/File:Ronald-Koeman-DSC_0039.jpg
"Ronald-Koeman-DSC 0039" by Wouter Engler - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ronald-Koeman-DSC_0039.jpg#/media/File:Ronald-Koeman-DSC_0039.jpg /

Everton will look to add to their squad this transfer window with the help of new Director of Football Steve Walsh.

Everton have not been doing as well as expected this season after they signed Ronald Koeman as manager. Koeman was highly instrumental in Southampton’s success in recent seasons but has yet to reproduce that form for Everton.

It hasn’t been easy for the Dutch manager after Everton lost to Leicester in their third round in the FA Cup. They are seventh in the Premier League table and nine points behind sixth-placed Manchester United

I expected Everton to have been fighting for a top four position this season. But, they have lost and drawn key matches such as the 2-2 draw at Hull. However, Everton snatched Leicester’s talented scout and assistant manager Steve Walsh at the start of this season. Things should change soon if Walsh manages to get the players he wants.

Steve Walsh was the man responsible for signing Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez, Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante. These players were instrumental for Leicester as they produced one of the biggest shocks, if not the biggest shock in football when they won the Premier League title last season. Leicester were paying 5000-1 odds to win the title.

It was an impressive feat spotting these players as they were hardly known in the football world.

N’Golo Kante had been playing for Ligue two side Caen in 2013 before helping his club to promotion. Walsh spotted his ability and he  brought him to Leicester for reportedly £5.6 million. Kante was subsequently named in the six-man shortlist of the PFA Player’s Player of the Year shortlist with fellow team-mates Mahrez and Vardy for his stellar performances for Leicester. Chelsea then signed Kante for around £32 million after winning the title with Leicester.

Mahrez won that award after scoring 17 goals and creating 11 assists in the 2015/16 season. Mahrez was playing in Ligue two as-well for Le Havre before Steve Walsh spotted him while he was scouting teammate Ryan Mendes. Mahrez’s skills and dribbling ability on the ball impressed Walsh instead. Leicester signed Mahrez for only £400,000 in January 2014 but his value has skyrocketed to around £40m.

Furthermore, Walsh scouted Jamie Vardy who was playing for non-league side Fleetwood Town in 2012. Leicester were the first club ever to pay £1m for a non-league player. Vardy scored 24 goals for Leicester in his third season, helping them to win the Premier League while breaking a Premier League record by scoring 11 goals in consecutive games.

Everton have pulled off a major coup by signing Walsh as their Director of Football. The man can clearly spot unknown talent.

The former teacher began his career as a scout at Bury before moving on to Chelsea. He scouted Chelsea legends Gianfranco Zola and Didier Drogba who were both somewhat unknown. They were both hugely successful signings for Chelsea. Buoyed by his success at Chelsea, Walsh sought to fulfill his ambitions by signing as chief scout at Newcastle United in 2006. From there he met Nigel Pearson whom promptly saw his talent and brought him along to Leicester City and was made assistant manager.

Everton now have a major talent in their hands. Along with their new financial backing by new owner Farhad Moshiri, they may soon become a major Premier League top-four contender. It hasn’t taken long for Walsh to make his mark at Everton either.

Walsh has already signed Idrissa Gueye, Yannick Bolasie and Ashley Williams at the start of the season. All three players have been great signings for Everton. Ashley Williams from Swansea has bolstered the defense while Gueye has been gnawing at opposition players in the midfield. Bolasie added a new creative dimension for Everton’s attack but is now unfortunately injured for a while.

More from Everton FC

But now, in January, while the big clubs are being linked with every top player and his dog in this transfer window, Everton have been quietly going about signing top players. Steve Walsh has been the pivotal influence in this.

Morgan Schneiderlin is about to join Everton from Manchester United for £22m. He will improve the Everton midfield considerably with his vision and box to box abilities.

Additionally, Everton have signed 19-year-old English forward Ademola Lookman from Charlton Athletic for £10 million. He is the most expensive signing from a league one team in England. This is a common theme for Walsh with his new signing drawing parallels with his earlier signings for Leicester.

Lookman, at 16, was not an academy player. He was playing, as what Charlton U21 coach Jason Euell described, ‘innocent sunday football’ for an amateur club called Waterloo FC.  Charlton scouts spotted him and he has been progressing up the footballing ladder ever since. Senior Charlton manager Karl Robinson told skysports that the teenager was ‘an incredible talent’.

Everton have also made a bid of £10.5m for 24-year-old Standard Liege striker Ishak Belfodil. Walsh has identified the Algerian striker as the man to help Romelu Lukaku up front. Belfodil has scored nine goals in 21 appearances this season.

So, Everton will have likely made three signings by the weekend which is a significant sign of intent for rival clubs. After their loss to Leicester in the FA Cup, Koeman stated that he wanted more signings to improve the club.

"“Maybe we will get further on our improvement as a team…that is really what the team needs. That is all about what happens this month. I have that in mind and the board knows because we spoke together about what we and the team needs. That is the job of Steve Walsh.”"

Walsh has reacted swiftly with the recent signings and it looks like there are more to come. Everton are also reportedly after West Brom’s Saido Berahino who has barely featured this season due to a lack of fitness according to Tony Pulis. However, it wouldn’t take this long for a striker to re-gain his fitness, so something is not right there.

Everton also bid £15m for Atalanta’s Franck Kessie which was rejected. This shows the kind of ambition they currently have compared to previous seasons under managers Martinez and Moyes.

They also want Memphis Depay on loan with a view to a permanent view but Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho is eager to sell for around £15m.

Everton have lofty ambitions which are shared by the new major shareholder Farhad Moshiri. Recently he told TalkSport that he will provide Koeman the money he needs.

"“We have no restrictions to spend.” “The manager is totally committed and ruthless; if a player is not up to it he uses another player and eventually he buys one…”"

The Iranian billionaire also added that he wants Everton to finish in the top six.

More from Playing for 90

"“He (Koeman) achieved eighth and seventh with Southampton. He needs to improve on that but it is a very difficult landscape now.”"

The owner also spoke about the plans on building a new stadium which could bring in more revenue.

It will be interesting to see if Everton manage to sign any more players.  Clearly, they have ambition, a top quality manager in Koeman, a talented football scout, a Director of Football in Steve Walsh and financial backing in new billionaire major shareholder Farhad Moshiri.

Everton should do well in the second half of this season which will worry most and delight the toffees’ faithful.