Everton experienced a disappointing January transfer window, failing in their primary objective of strengthening their first-team squad with extra additions.
Chasing Champions League qualification, the Toffees were in need of fresh personnel to bolster their roster. Sadly, this was not to be.
Towards the end of January, many anticipated Leroy Fer's arrival, after it was announced an £8.6 million deal had been reached with FC Twente (via The Independent).
This was certainly a bitter blow for the Toffees, and supporters have been quick to chastise the club for abandoning the move, yet this stubborn call was entirely correct, given the doubts.
Under David Moyes, Everton opt to blend relatively high earners in a thin, versatile squad that enables them to field a strong first 11, although they often have difficulty filling the gaps caused by injuries.
This has seen them use fewer players and make fewer substitutions than any other team this season, and many feel their favoured starting lineup is beginning to grow a little stale.
The tiredness factor has become prominent in many Evertonians' post-match assessments, especially with no wins in the three games since January.
This is absolutely a cause for concern; however, one new signing is unlikely to rejuvenate an entire squad, and it seems unfair to attribute the blame on the failed transfer of Fer, in isolation.
If players are beginning to wilt, perhaps there should be more calls for David Moyes to better integrate his fringe players. Infusing the likes of Bryan Oviedo, Ross Barkley, Shane Duffy and one or two others would surely have a more rounded influence than one lone new signing.
Another common theme of supporters' frustration is that Everton should have just gone ahead, taken a chance and signed Fer anyway—something that's completely out of the question.
The Toffees' precarious finances and insecure business model mean following such a nonchalant course of action could severely jeopardise the club's future.
Buying a player for £8.6 million would use up a vast proportion of the club's spending allowance. It would restrict future business, and, for that price, Fer would be put on a long-term deal with an attractive wage packet.
If these injury doubts transpired, the player would be almost impossible to move on.
He would sit in the medical department, eating up wages, preventing other high earners from coming in and—without the social troubles—could easily follow the Everton career path of someone like Andy van der Meyde.
If the Toffees felt there was sufficient concern to warrant extra caution in that individual case, that's simply the undesirable route they have to take. There can be no gambling the club's future just for the present.
January's renowned for being a time when sides are held to ransom as they pursue their ideal targets. The Toffees had other options, but in each situation they found they were priced out, which is, sadly, the way for the vast majority of clubs.
If Everton still want Fer in the summer, they will have a far longer period to hatch out the correct deal and work out what's best for both parties.
As frustrating as it is for supporters, with no investment, pulling out of a deal that could seriously harm the club's foundations was the sensible course of action.
It was an unpopular choice but one that had to be made. Querying the club's lack of progress in finding investment is, perhaps, a more worthy topic of deliberation; as is the question over the lack of alternative options to Leroy Fer.
With fourth not yet out of the question and an enticing draw in the FA Cup, there's much for the Toffees to play for over the coming months. It's time to move on from January's frustrations.
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