Everton 2014/15 transfer review
Roberto Martinez hoped to build on the success he enjoyed in his first season as Everton boss so he looked to keep all his key players, turn a couple of loan deals to permanent signings then add a few quality players to help the Toffees finish in the top four.
Key players out
Everton had no need to sell any important players last summer but they had to release Samuel Eto’o a few months into his two-year contract. The Cameroonian was a free agent when he signed for Everton in August, albeit with the second year dependent on making 15 starts last term.
The extension appeared a formality by the end of October when Eto’o had scored four goals in nine appearances and Roberto Martinez was praising the striker’s influence on and off the pitch.
But his value rapidly decreased at Goodison Park with players like academy graduate Conor McAleny taking his place on the bench. That eventually compelled Martinez to offload the forward.
Key players signed
Romelu Lukaku was the most important signing for Everton last summer. At 21, the Belgian already boasted two successful seasons as a Premier League striker. He netted 17 times in the league when Chelsea loaned him to West Brom in the 2012/13 season.
Lukaku followed that up with 15 league goals when the Toffees borrowed him from the west London giants. The striker enjoyed working under Martinez and his first year at Everton proved that he could be the main man for the club so the Spanish boss was happy to invest heavily in the striker.
Everton also permanently signed Barry, who had impressed when Manchester City loaned him to the Merseyside club. The 34-year-old may have been a free agent but he was a crucial signing for Martinez due to his ability to sit, protect central defenders and recycle possession at the base of midfield.
Barry’s age probably prompted Martinez to also go for 22 year-old Muhamed Besic. Besic was clearly a player signed with a long term perspective but he has enough experience at the highest level having featured at the World Cup for Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Goodison Park faithful quickly took to the Bosnian’s style: tough in the tackle, trustworthy with the ball in dangerous positions and covering a lot of ground when he starts as the sitting midfielder.
Aaron Lennon joined on loan from Spurs on January transfer deadline day and he gradually became an important part of Everton’s set-up because he provides a different dimension to the Toffees.
Most of Everton’s attacking midfielders preferred to drift inside and work between the lines but the England international provided pace in behind defences. Lennon also added width to Everton’s attacks during the second-half of the season with his tendency to remain wide right as a natural winger.
Besic’s £4m move to Everton represents a wise, long-term signing for the Toffees but Everton’s assessment ultimately boils down to Lukaku because the striker’s transfer gobbled up a huge chunk of Everton’s transfer kitty.
The £28m man admitted this has been a disappointing season for him as his goal return in the league plummeted from 17 goals two seasons ago to 15 last season and eventually 10 this term.
On the plus side, Lukaku has scored 20 goals in all competitions, which is more than decent for a disappointing season. He still spends a far less time in the box than he should for a target man and the Belgian should improve his link up play.
Given that with more maturity most strikers improve on the aspects still lacking from Lukaku’s game, Everton will probably get more from their prized asset.