Why Nikica Jelavic Will Be Everton's Most Important Player Next Season

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2012

Why Nikica Jelavic Will Be Everton's Most Important Player Next Season

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    After an impressive 2011-2012 campaign, Everton appear poised for another solid year in the English Premier League.

    With the summer transfer window in full swing and rumors abound, it's never too early to begin looking froward to another season of English football.

    While, according to an ESPNSoccernet article, speculation surrounds the club's current financial situation, it's time to evaluate which players will have the biggest impact on the coming season.

    A transfer from Scottish side Rangers, expect striker Nikica Jelavic to have a profound impact on the Toffees in his first full season with Everton.

Everton's Best Attacking Option

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    Although he started just 10 games in an Everton uniform last season, Nikica Jelavic had no trouble slotting in as the team's No. 1 goal-scoring option.

    The Croatian national netted nine goals in 13 total appearances in the Premier League last season, and given a full slate of games, he should contend with the league's elite as a top goal scorer.

    Prior to arriving at Everton, Jelavic recorded 14 goals in 2011 with Scottish Premier League side Rangers—numbers that made him appealing to Everton as a legitimate go-to scorer.

    As his role expands and he grows more comfortable with his surroundings, Jelavic will only continue to improve on his impressive numbers.

Supplements an Impressive Defense

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    Statistically, Everton had one of the Premier League's best defenses throughout the 2011-2012 campaign.

    One of the league's elite, Everton allowed just 15 goals while playing at home, in contrast to the 25 they allowed while playing on the road.

    Led by Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini, Everton's defense stood tall.

    Jelavic's play certainly garnered significant attention, but the help of Fellaini and the rest of the Toffees' midfield and defense were a big reason why they were able to post an overall goal differential of 10.

    A contrasting duo, Jelavic and Fellaini will look to recreate similar success throughout the 2012-2013 season.

Potential Star Power

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    Although they don't have the financial flexibility of some other elite Premier League sides, Everton have done a nice job managing their funds in order to acquire some necessary pieces.

    Their roster may not be loaded with big names, but Nikica Jelavic is considered a budding star with serious goal-scoring potential.

    Jelavic will turn 27 years old not long after the season begins, and his breakout potential on Europe's brightest stage cannot be ignored.

    Maintaining the role of striker on a Premier League side comes with some added pressure, but should Jelavic continue to succeed, there's no reason to think that he, and Everton, won't garner more attention.

Fits Their Style of Play

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    As previously discussed, Everton's need for a clinical finisher up top will be critical to further success.

    Complemented by a strong defense and midfield, Jelavic's role as Everton's true marksman will make him the center of attention in his full first season with the Toffees.

    In fact, Jelavic's Croatian manager Slaven Bilic has mentioned that he believes Jelavic is a natural fit with Everton according to ESPNSoccernet:

    Okay, they have a great squad but they needed a guy who is not only a finisher - he does not need that to be playing well - but also great in the build-up play, he can hold the ball. He is just perfect for Everton's style of play.

    Everton will benefit from Jelavic's offensive prowess and production as his play solidifies the Toffees as one of the Premier League's most complete squads.

So, Why Isn't Fellaini the Most Important?

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    There's no real argument to be made about who Everton's best player is.

    Midfielder Marouane Fellaini has all of the tools to be considered one of the Premier League's best young midfielders, and his control both offensively and defensively is the glue that holds Everton together.

    Fellaini's complete skill set makes him the team's most valuable piece, but the Toffees' financial woes have raised some concerns about his immediate future with the club.

    As the Mirror reports, an offer upwards of £20 million could be too enticing for Everton to turn down. Although manager David Moyes has insisted his club's goal is to retain their stars, Fellaini's future isn't set in stone.

    Nikica Jelavic's game still may be developing, but his importance up top for Everton is undeniable, and his goal scoring will be crucial to Everton's success this season.