It’s an exciting time to be an Everton fan. The Toffees have a genuinely world-class manager in the dugout, a talented squad and the cash to push for European qualification next season.
Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment in December was a signal of intent at Goodison Park. The former Milan, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich coach is a three-time UEFA Champions League winner and has won league titles in England, Italy, France, Germany and Spain.
The current Blues squad, however, is a hotchpotch made up of signings from Marco Silva, Ronald Koeman and even Roberto Martínez. This summer is Ancelotti’s chance to stamp his mark on the group.
Four senior players are out of contract this summer and the most significant is Leighton Baines. The left-back is a cult hero among Toffees fans and will have been at Goodison Park for 13 years when his current contract concludes. There’s no rush to extend the 35-year-old’s deal – he loves Everton and Everton love him. Baines backs up Lucas Digne nowadays, but there aren’t many better deputy left-backs in the Premier League.
Few tears will be shed if, as expected, Oumar Niasse and Cuco Martina depart. Maarten Stekelenburg could well extend his deal to offer backup to Jordan Pickford in the goalkeeping stakes.
Right-back Djibril Sidibe will also be heading back to parent club Monaco unless Everton convert his loan into a longer-term arrangement. It’s unclear whether the French international has done enough to earn a full-time switch.
Cenk Tosun and Morgan Schneiderlin are among those who could make way for new arrivals. Moise Kean is in the last-chance saloon following a dismal first season in England and a high-profile breach of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Roma and Napoli are reportedly keen. Mo Bešić has spent the season on loan at Sheffield United and should depart for good upon his return.
Of greatest concern to Evertonians, though, is the future of Brazil international Richarlison. Barcelona reportedly saw an £85million offer rejected in January. Could the Blaugrana return for the former Watford attacker after an impressive season?
Key areas to strengthen
Some might argue a new No.1 is in order. Pickford has not dropped many clangers but there have been enough smaller errors combined to call his position into question.
In front of the England No.1, centre-half remains an issue. Former Everton boss Silva tried and failed to sign Kurt Zouma last summer following his impressive loan spell from Chelsea. That left the Toffees with just three central defenders – Yerry Mina, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate – a precarious position.
If Baines doesn’t extend his Goodison stay then an understudy for the hugely impressive Digne must be found. Equally, if Sidibe heads back to France and Kenny does not return to Merseyside, right-back cover is a must.
In midfield, a fit-again Jean-Philippe Gbamin should be like a new signing but don’t rule out further investment. Plenty of midfielders have been linked.
Meanwhile, the search for a No.9 isn’t as urgent thanks to Dominic Calvert-Lewin‘s displays under Ancelotti. But if Kean, Niasse and Tosun depart as expected, he’ll need help.
Centre-half is high on Ancelotti’s list of priorities. According to Sky Sports News, the Toffees are one of four clubs who have already made an offer for Lille’s Gabriel Magalhaes. The 22-year-old Brazilian defender is expected to cost around £30million and Arsenal have also been linked with a move.
If a deal for Gabriel isn’t possible, Everton have Barcelona’s Jean-Clair Todibo on their radar. The Frenchman has shone on loan at Schalke since January but Barça are keen to sell in order to raise funds. Todibo has admirers across Europe, making any potential deal difficult. A price of £17.4million has been mooted.
Real Sociedad’s Diego Llorente is on Everton’s radar too, according to Noticias de Gipuzkoa.
Correio da Manhã claim Sporting midfielder Wendel is a target and he’s not the only midfielder being linked. Juventus outcast Adrien Rabiot is another and the Frenchman worked under Ancelotti at PSG. His first season in Turin has been disappointing and he has refused to return to training following lockdown. According to reports, Rabiot ‘wants’ to join Everton.
Another big name linked with the Merseysiders is Real Madrid’s James Rodríguez. The Colombian is surplus to requirements at the Santiago Bernabéu. Ancelotti is a known admirer of the playmaker having worked with him at Real and Bayern. According to Caracol, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United are keen too.
Angers midfielder Baptiste Santamaria – likened to N’Golo Kanté – is yet another midfield option for Everton, according to Le10Sport. Calcio Mercato claim Fiorentina’s impressive young midfielder Gaetano Castrovilli is interesting Ancelotti.
Up front, Everton could try to offload Kean, a £27million signing from Juventus less than 12 months ago, in a swap deal with Napoli for Hirving Lozano. That’s according to Sport Mediaset. Finally, Correio da Manhã claim Benfica hitman Rafa Silva could solve Everton’s need for a striker. But the 27-year-old would cost €80million.