10 Defenders Everton Should Look for in January
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With the New Year’s Eve hangovers finally subsiding, it is time for Football’s January transfer window to take centre stage.
Already the infamous “My girlfriend is Roman Ambrovich’s hairdresser” and “I saw it on Twitter, so it must be true” rumours and gossip are already beginning to surface. Anybody who is a member of a forum, a social networking site or a consumer of newspapers and websites will know all about this comical bi-annual occurrence.
I do not want to touch upon the all deals that may happen between now and the 31st January, so my focus centres on an area that is specific to Everton fans.
With Everton" target="_blank">Johnny Heitinga looking to leave and Sylvain Distin’s contract expiring at the end of the season, Everton will be looking for defensive replacements this month.
Everton used to be synonymous with keeping clean sheets in the EPL but, after conceding over a goal per game, a defensive reshuffle is definitely required.
Here are 10 defenders who could be high on David Moyes’ mid-season shopping list.
1. Joleon Lescott: Manchester City
Everton fans would welcome back Joleon Lescott.
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Joleon Lescott's return to Everton was mooted by many media publications throughout the month of December. Due to his continued absence from the first team at Manchester City, it was suggested that he may re-sign for the Merseysiders on-loan in January.
From my perspective, it would be a great mid-season signing.
Though his departure was acrimonious, his three years at Everton were extremely successfully, forging a great partnership with Phil Jagielka and being voted Players’ Player of the Season in 2007.
Before his move to City in 2009, Lescott’s appeared happy at Everton, and I believe the England international would gladly to return to Goodison Park.
It is not as simplistic as the newspapers make out, with Roberto Mancini seeing his squad depleted by injury and Lescott’s astronomical wage being major stumbling blocks.
Call me sentimental, but I long for the day that he could be reunited with Phil Jagielka. That defensive partnership was the best since Kevin Ratcliffe and David Watson in the mid 1980s.
2. Vegard Forren: Molde FC
Norway's' impressive young centre-back could be Everton bound
Vegard Forren is another name that has been linked to Everton by many outlets. Although his name might not have registered with most mainstream football supporters, the Norwegian international definitely has the necessary pedigree to succeed in the EPL.
The Scandinavian football aficionados will tell you about his tough tackling and no-nonsense defending, both essential skills that David Moyes likes from his defenders.
At 24 years old, he is the right age to cope with the rigours of English football, and standing at 6'1" tall should help him to deal with aerial bombardments from the likes of Stoke City.
Everton do have competition for his signature, with Manchester United allegedly seeing him as a long-term successor to Rio Ferdinand. It was also suggested that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer—Forren’s manager at Molde—would prefer him to sign for United.
However, I believe his stature and style would fit into the Everton defense, seamlessly slipping into the gap left by John Heitinga or Sylvain Distin.
And, since he’s highly rated by FIFA 2013 fans, he’s gets the thumbs up from me too.
3. Grant Hanley: Blackburn Rovers
Grant Hanley is a future EPL star.
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For those old enough to remember David Moyes as a player at Celtic, certain words spring to mind: tough, gritty, determined and fearless.
All these characteristics can also be found in Blackburn Rover’s young centre-back Grant Hanley.
The young Scottish international, who already has EPL experience, has been quietly building a reputation as a star in the making.
With Championship side Blackburn seemingly in complete disarray, Moyes could do a lot worse than attempt to take advantage of this situation by picking up Hanley in January.
Linked to Everton back in June, it suggests to me that Moyes could be looking to add the fellow Scot to the ranks at Goodison Park in the near future.
4. Rod Fanni: Olympique De Marseille
Fanni's experience and pace could prove invaluable for Everton.
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Stop sniggering please.
Everton’s recent match against Chelsea showcased that the right-back position is still a cause for concern. With Tony Hibbert and Seamus Coleman out injured, Phil Jagielka looked lost being being played out of position.
Frenchman Rod Fanni could just be the solution to that problem.
Vastly experienced and extremely quick, Fanni’s out-of-favour position at Marseille could work to Everton’s advantage. Fanni’s contract expires in June 2013, meaning he would be available for a nominal fee in January—which will be music to chairman Bill Kenwright’s ears.
Personally, I still have reservations about Seamus Coleman’s ability to become Everton’s long-term right-back. Elementary mistakes against Reading and Fulham have cost Everton important points this season—something I can not see Fanni replicating.
The equation is simple: Experience + cheap = a no-brainer.
5. Douglas Franco Teixeira: FC Twente
The ball-playing defender could prove to be a major asset for Everton.
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With Rio de Janeiro hosting the 2016 Olympic Games and Chelsea’s contingent of Ramires, Oscar and David Luiz earning multiple plaudits—Brazilians are currently flavor of the month in sport.
So, if David Moyes wants to add some defensive finesse to his new attack-minded team, he should look no further than FC Twente’s Douglas Franco Teixeria.
For years, one of Everton’s problems has been a lack of ball-playing defenders. Douglas could solve that issue because, like most Brazilians, he has the necessary flair and talent with the ball at his feet.
If Johnny Heitinga does leave Goodison Park in January, Douglas is without question a value for money replacement.
Could Everton jump on the samba bandwagon by signing the highly respected young Brazilian?
I sincerely hope so, as Douglas is an immense talent.
6. Matt Besler: Sporting Kansas City
Matt Besler could easily handle the EPL.
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MLS Defender of the Season Besler, who bizarrely has yet to earn an International cap for USA, could easily do a professional job at Everton.
After signing a new contract with his hometown team, a permanent move during this transfer window looks unlikely, but a short-term loan to prove his talent is not out of the question.
Should he sign for Everton, he would follow in the footsteps of another American who won over the hearts of supporters: Landon Donovan.
7. Michael Dawson: Tottenham Hotspur
His aerial power could be a major weapon for Everton.
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Stories emanating from the press at the weekend suggest that new QPR manager Harry Redknapp is looking to sign Tottenham Hotspur’s Michael Dawson, should his attempt to acquire Everton’s Sylvain Distin services fail.
Personally, I think David Moyes should be looking to sign Dawson as Distin’s long-term replacement.
The current Tottenham captain is someone who would fit in with the defensive ethos at Goodison Park. Dawson is a player I highly rate, and find it staggering that he was almost sold in August.
His aerial prowess was yet again in evidence against Reading on New Year’s Eve, an attribute that makes him a viable transfer option for Moyes. Everton tend to concede goals from crosses and set pieces, something Dawson could help to eradicate.
His wage and price tag—£10 million—could price Everton out of the running for him, but Moyes has proved to be extremely shrewd in the transfer market before.
If Distin is reunited with Redkapp at QPR, do not be surprised to see Everton making a move for the 6'2'' defender in January.
8. Ashley Williams: Swansea City
Ashley Williams has significantly grown in statue this season.
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Williams and Dawson have similar attributes, hence the Welshman makes this top 10 list.
This season has seen Williams become a respected EPL defender. Notoriously hard to beat in the air and on the floor, his leadership qualities have also shone through this season. With Phil Neville being the wrong side of 35, Williams’ age—28—will certainly interest David Moyes.
For a player who only cost £400,000 from Stockport in 2003, Swansea will be looking to demand at least twenty times that amount, with manager Michael Laudrup pulling out all the stops to keep his talisman in January.
On the flip side, Everton have proved to be a big draw for players like Williams before, so in the infamous words of Kenwright “watch this space.”
9. Eric Dier: Sporting Lisbon
Sporting Lisbon might end up becoming a selling club, with young Eric Dier a major asset.
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Building a squad for the future is something David Moyes prides himself on.
Over the last couple of season, Everton has seen a steady influx of young players into the youth academy—one of whom was a certain Eric Dier.
Despite playing for Portuguese Primeira Liga side Sporting Lisbon, 18-year-old Dier is actually from Cheltenham in the South-West of England.
Dier has already had a taste of life at Goodison Park after signing for club for the 2011-2012 season for “an opportunity for the athlete to grow in a more competitive and demanding environment.” After the 12 months elapsed, Everton were unable to sign him permanently, and he returned to Portugal.
It is important to sign young players who understand a club’s ethos and expectancies.
Everton should take advantage of Portuguese clubs struggling due to the Eurozone crisis by attempting to sign him on a full-time basis.
After working under Moyes and Everton legends David Weir and Alan Stubbs—Dier could potentially become a player in their mould.
10. John Stones: Barnsley
Another hot young talent from The Championship conveyor belt: John Stones.
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My colleague Matt Cheetham discussed the reasons why John Stones would suit Everton in October 2012, and I would like to echo these sentiments.
Stones could be another fantastic Championship signing by David Moyes—see Tim Cahill and Joleon Lescott for more evidence—and would only command a tiny transfer fee.
As previously mentioned, Everton’s right-back position is still a weakness—Barnsley's Stones could be the solution to that problem in the club’s future.
He is stronger built and more defensively minded than Seamus Coleman, enabling Moyes to have a range of tactical options.
I like Stones and believe he has all the qualities needed to become an established EPL defender.