Everton enjoyed a great season last year, with many people pointing to the arrival of Roberto Martinez as a key factor in their success.
Following David Moyes’s appointment as manager of Manchester United, Roberto Martinez was appointed as his successor. Martinez began by adapting the style he had with Wigan and implementing it at Everton.
This was a great success with Everton proving to be a genuine contender for a Champions League position, earning some notable victories against Arsenal, Chelsea and subsequently completing a double over United.
Martinez was praised for the way in which Wigan had played during his stint at the DW Stadium. Although they were relegation candidates for most of their time in the league, Martinez still had his team playing an attractive brand of football.
The Spaniard proved last season that it was no fluke with Wigan; he could handle the pressure of a big club and make them play his way. It was not just the style of play that improved the team, it was his shrewd dealings in the transfer window.
Martinez signed a number of players that flourished during last year’s campaign and played a big part in Everton securing a fifth place finish.
Unfortunately, of the players Martinez acquired James McCarthy is the only permanent signing. Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and Gerard Deulofeu were all signed on loan and not on permanent deals. The question now for Evertonians is whether the side can ope with losing three of their best players.
Gareth Barry is currently a free agent following his release from Manchester City. Everton will undoubtedly look to sign him permanently on a free transfer, but the former England midfielder could command a substantial signing on fee.
Barry might want to follow in the footsteps of both Jermaine Defoe and David Villa and look for a big money move to the States.
Following a great season with Everton and the subsequent disappointment of being overlooked for the England World Cup squad, Barry’s days in an England shirt are surely behind him. He could be tempted to leave English football altogether and search for pastures new.
The futures of Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu are less clear. Both have a few years left on their contracts with Chelsea and Barcelona, respectively. Lukaku has scored 32 goals in the Premier League over the last two seasons with West Brom and Everton, and Jose Mourinho may look to the striker as a solution to Chelsea’s attacking woes.
Deulofeu is an exciting young Spanish player who only just lost out on a place in Spain’s World Cup squad. Although injuries restricted him to fewer appearances than he would have liked, he still made a lasting impression in the league.
Barcelona have announced they intend to keep the youngster. With the threat of a transfer ban hanging over the Catalan club should their appeal fail, holding on to their promising players is a necessity.
It looks unlikely that these players will be going back to Everton. Chelsea paid £18 million for Lukaku, so they will want to recoup a significant amount of that fee.
Deulofeu has been capped with the senior Spanish squad and is an obvious talent. The Catalans could look for close to £15 million for the 20-year-old. It is in situations like this that Everton will have to sell in order to keep the stars that lit up their season last year.
Besides the three loans, the players that really stood out for the Toffees last season were McCarthy, Seamus Coleman, and Ross Barkley.
Kevin Mirallas, while a good player, is inconsistent and injury prone and Everton should be able to hold on to the Belgian. The real danger of players leaving is their two full backs and Barkley.
All the top clubs are crying out for good fullbacks; Seamus Coleman being linked with both Arsenal and United. There is constant speculation regarding Leighton Baines’ future, as the England international continues to perform impeccably.
Ross Barkley possesses that rare ability for a central midfield player to be able to beat a man while in full flow. A number of clubs have already expressed an interest in the young star.
As can be seen from Everton’s example, there are both positives and negatives to the loan system. One such drawback is the predicament that the Toffees now find themselves in. If they are to build on last season, it is clear that a substantial war chest is necessary this summer.
Gavin Nolan, Pundit Arena.