The last few days at Everton will have come as quite a shock to the vast majority of their supporters. Instead of waiting until the latter stages of the transfer window to make an impact—as was often the case under David Moyes—the Toffees have gone on an uncharacteristic signing spree, bolstering their squad with four new signings.
Arouna Kone, Antolin Alcaraz and Joel Robles have all arrived on permanent deals, while the supremely talented Gerard Deulofeu has joined from Barcelona on a one-year loan.
This sudden influx of new personnel provides Roberto Martinez with a far better chance of crafting his new side in his chosen system. But exactly how will he opt to do this?
Here's a look at three possible lineups Martinez could deploy next season—using some or all of these new acquisitions and assuming no major players depart the Toffees.
This is a formation similar to the 4-4-1-1 approach favoured by David Moyes. While it's not something Martinez incorporated often at Wigan, he could turn to this if he doesn't think radical change would be wise straight away, and he certainly has the right blend of players for this to work.
This is possibly Everton's strongest current lineup, considering the likes of Leon Osman, Ross Barkley, Arouna Kone and Victor Anichebe all miss out on selection. Although all could easily slot in.
The back four picks itself. In central midfield Darron Gibson rekindles what's been an effective, but underused partnership with Marouane Fellaini—who drops back into his preferred defensive role.
Deulofeu then joins Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar in what would be a very fluid attacking trio, all likely to interchange and overload certain areas of the pitch. Jelavic then performs as striker, likely to run on to considerably more through balls than last season which could well see him flourish.
This shape relates to Martinez's days at Wigan, with three genuine attacking players ahead of three central midfielders.
With Everton's current personnel it's slightly trickier to incorporate all the best players. Once again the back four picks itself, with Robles given a run in goal. Fellaini then anchors the midfield either side of Gibson and Osman while Mirallas and Deulofeu are again the wider options.
This formation relies on better hold-up play and ball retention from the striker, making Kone or Anichebe the better candidates given their physical attributes.
The fact Pienaar, among others, doesn't naturally fit into this lineup suggests it may not be the best approach for the Toffees at the moment.
Finally, should Martinez look to introduce a back three, as he did so often at Wigan, it may look something like this.
Alcaraz comes in at the back, to help the transition to a three-man defence, while Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines seem natural wing-backs who would surely excel in this system.
Fellaini once again appears in a central berth, but this time with Pienaar, who takes up a deeper role than he's been accustomed to. Mirallas, Deulofeu and Kone then all feature up front, and there is plenty of firepower on the bench.
This new quartet of signings have quickly provided Martinez with selection dilemmas almost completely unfamiliar to David Moyes. With this current squad there would be fierce competition for places in several positions and regular starters from last season would almost certainly be sitting out.
In these lineups; Osman, Gibson and Fellaini are fighting for two places, with three or four (depending on the system) needed from Deulofeu, Mirallas, Pienaar, Kone, Jelavic and Anichebe. Not to mention the likes of Ross Barkley and Steven Naismith in reserve.
It's easy to forget Martinez inherited a squad challenging for fourth over the majority of last season. As of yet—and despite unrelenting rumours to the contrary—nobody has left from that roster, and while additional reinforcements could still be useful in certain areas, such as up front, Martinez's primary task is now to hold on to what he's got.
Going into the season like this, Everton would be right in the mix for Europe, and possibly more.
Tactics Board via EPL Index