Everton Transfers: David Moyes' 5 Biggest Needs in January Window
Everton's imposing early season form is something David Moyes has been desperate to coax from his side for a number of years.
So accustomed to sprinting for the finish line having struggled their way to Christmas, the fact the Toffees for once seem sufficiently innervated at this time of year has caused optimism around the club to soar.
January has recently been a vital period for Everton. Indeed last year it was crucial as vital new additions provided impetus on the field and helped shake off some typically sporadic autumn form.
This season, if Moyes can keep this current level of play going over the next few weeks, he may not need to rely on January quite as much, although a couple of additions could still prove timely.
Unlikely to be able to spend freely, as per usual, Moyes may still be able to line up a couple of cheaper deals and peruse through the non-permanent markets, with Everton's loan quota remaining unfilled.
Looking ahead to January, here are the five most pressing concerns the Toffees may look to address.
Replace Fellaini's Midfield Influence
In Marouane Fellaini, Everton possess a rare breed of footballer capable of influencing a game at both ends of the field. During the Belgian's career with the Toffees, David Moyes' task has always been to identify which area of the pitch is most in need of his skills.
Whether it be harassing and disrupting in a defensive role, or winning the ball and linking up with a front man, Fellaini is often his side's standout performer in whichever role his manager chooses.
Last season he spent the majority of the year anchoring midfield, but it seems Moyes now intends to use his physical attributes further up the pitch, at least for the time being.
Fellaini has started this campaign on fire. However, without the Belgian marshalling the middle of the park, there is an obvious need for a more combative, physical presence in front of the back four.
After Jack Rodwell's departure, the club failed to land another central midfielder in the summer, and with Ross Barkley gaining valuable experience out on loan and Darron Gibson now injured, Moyes is suddenly short of options.
Thomas Hitzlsperger is currently on trial at the club, suggesting Moyes could look to rectify this issue before January. Moves for other free agents such as Nigel Reo-Coker and Owen Hargreaves have also been mooted, and either could also prove a temporary solution.
At the moment, central midfield is Everton's most pressing concern.
An Understudy to Push Howard
His manager, Lee Clark, later denied any approach transpired, but many in the media maintain their stance that an enquiry had been made.
On paper, acquiring a player with Butland's burgeoning reputation would be nothing short of a major coup for Everton, and would certainly intensify the battle for a goalkeeping jersey that has been Tim Howard's for so long.
With only Jan Mucha as a genuine alternative to the American, it seems Everton have ambitions to upgrade their goalkeeping ranks over the coming year and finally add some competition.
Should Butland be targeted again, Howard's position would not necessarily be under immediate threat, as the Toffees could afford to loan him out for a year or so before bringing him back to compete for the goalkeeping gloves.
Further Striking Options
Quite simply, Nikica Jelavic has been a revelation in his short time on Merseyside.
Grabbing 12 goals himself, whilst drastically augmenting the Toffees' overall attacking feats, he has helped fans almost completely forget the scoring troubles endured just eight months ago.
However, as revamped as Everton's offence now is, should anything happen to Goodison Park's newest hero, David Moyes still has very few alternative options at his disposal.
With Jelavic picking up a minor injury against Newcastle, playing without him is a scenario the club are currently experiencing, although Victor Anichebe's form has ensured this absence has not been too heavily felt.
If the Nigerian also succumbs to injury at some point, as he has during most recent campaigns, the Toffees would then be severely stretched, particularly if a scoring threat was needed off the bench.
Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas could perhaps provide a solution, but bringing in another out-and-out striker, perhaps on loan, seems a sensible move for the new year.
Bolster the Under-21s
With Seamus Coleman suggesting he is ready to compete for the right-back berth and Bryan Oviedo finally providing some cover at left-back, there are few other areas Everton will be looking to add to, aside from sheer numbers.
Keen to have his hand in every area of the club, something Moyes won't be enjoying at the moment is seeing his youth teams struggle in the newly revamped reserve and academy leagues.
The Under-18s and Under-21s have both experienced mixed fortunes this season, when just 18 months ago Everton could call themselves the champion team in the English academy game.
Moyes enjoys the club firing on all cylinders and whilst it won't be a glaring priority, he may instruct his scouts to cast a quick eye over academy football.
Any uncharted potential gems that could be nurtured whilst appearing for youth teams may well be sought in January, as has been the case in recent transfer windows.
Keep Hold of Baines and Fellaini
Of course, at the same time as scouring the market for ways to maintain or improve their own fortunes, Everton must also make sure they resist any untimely bids for key personnel.
An unwelcome departure could instantly derail the club's on-field progress, unbalance the dressing room and stifle the chances of ensuring this season becomes one to remember.
Marouane Fellaini did not endear himself to Evertonians with his recent comments, saying how he would most likely leave the club after, or even during, this coming season—he is certainly a player likely to be coveted.
The Belgian's eventual departure is something most supporters accept, although surely it is something for a summer transfer window when there's far more time to construct an appropriate contingency plan.
Leighton Baines is another player sure to be courted by rival teams, but surely all approaches for such pivotal performers must be rebuffed, at least until the summer.
Few teams prosper when selling their best players halfway through a season.
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