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Everton could be progressing from top six waiting room

Everton

Farhad Moshiri’s investment in Everton did not turn heads in the way it should have done. Whether because the Toffees are perceived as outsiders to the top six bubble or because grotesque spending has become so common place in the Premier League, Everton’s bulking of financial muscle was overlooked.

The attitude of the club for the majority of this millennium has been to do the best with what they have. Spend minimal amounts, sell players at the peak of their value and make sure they retain a place in the top ten. That top ten place has largely been for appearances sake in the majority of those seasons.

That mind set altered briefly in the David Moyes to Roberto Martinez transition. The departure of Moyes and Marouane Fellaini was followed by flowing football and the marquee signing of Romelu Lukaku on a permanent deal. Spending money in such a chunk was alien to Everton, and it was perhaps the first sign of times changing.

Early Movement

With Martinez’s downfall in 2015/16, the chance to hire the impressive Ronald Koeman was too good to turn a blind eye to. It was an appointment indicative of Everton’s newfound ambition, and the transfer business conducted immediately showed that best of the rest was no longer going to be enough at Goodison.

Yannick Bolasie’s extravagant transfer fee raised eyebrows, the acquisition of Ashley Williams was met with a hum of approval and the midfield arrivals of Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin were two of the shrewdest signings across Europe last season.

This summer Everton have acted swiftly. Davy Klaassen and Jordan Pickford have been confirmed before the beginning of July, while La Masia graduate Sandro Ramirez is in line to be a Toffee within days.

Klaassen’s Premier League arrival has been touted on an almost annual basis, and it was inevitable the Dutch midfielder would appear after Ajax’s enthralling run to the Europa League final. Pickford was the sole shining light from Sunderland’s inept relegation, making him an obvious answer to Everton’s elongated goalkeeping crisis.

Perhaps only the beginning…

Sandro’s impending unveiling is supposedly a pre-emptive strike before the long-murmured departure of Lukaku. Lukaku’s desire to leave has set the club’s top six pursuit back somewhat, but the fee that will be received could kick-start further transfer investment.

Not to mention the question marks bubbling around Ross Barkley’s future, Everton could be splashed across the back pages with a ‘kitty’ even greater than before.

The alternative is, of course, that the signings already made have been financed by the assumption of Lukaku and Barkley’s sales and that this summer will be little more than we have already seen.

The groundwork has been done to consolidate Everton’s position in the top six waiting room, but the response to the loss of Lukaku will outline their ambition heading into 2017/18.

Coolest of them all

The one name yet to be mentioned – who Everton reportedly had a £27 million bid rejected for – is Swansea’s ever under-rated attacking midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelandic international would be the perfect foil for a firing Lukaku, but Goodison Park is unlikely to be treated to that duo next season.

Providing goals, set piece perfection and smooth transition passing, Sigurdsson could materialise into the signing of the summer. His fee, though, will be cringeworthy given his importance to Swansea.

If there’s a sign that Everton’s squad will not just be getting a facelift but a full makeover, it’s the pursuit of Sigurdsson.

What if it’s all perfect?

Keeping Lukaku was an optimist’s hope a few months ago. Now the Belgian’s future is clearly away from Goodison, their chances of breaching the eight point wall that protected the top six are lessened.

The initial signs, however, could not be much more positive for the Toffees. Brief talk of Koeman’s departure has been kicked into the wilderness, and the club is showing transfer competitiveness seldom associated with the blue sector of Merseyside previously.

If any team is to take advantage of a sub-par campaign from one of the top six it will be Koeman’s Everton. Every avenue has surely been explored to retain Lukaku, but – should the unthinkable happen – Everton could quickly heighten the tension at the Premier League summit and force us to consider it a top seven.

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