Assessing Roberto Martinez's Summer Transfer Needs at Everton
Back from multiple World Cup coverage commitments, Roberto Martinez's focus has now returned to Everton.
With a month to go until the start of the new season, the Catalan must shape his squad for a second year on Merseyside.
As well as building on last season's fifth-place finish, this squad must be durable enough to accommodate a Europa League campaign.
In short, the size and the talent of last year's squad must be surpassed.
The contributions of the now-departed Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu must be matched, while the number of personnel must also increase.
This slideshow looks at a breakdown of the Toffees' needs at every position. Presuming no prominent first-team players depart, here's an idea of where Martinez must strengthen.
Goalkeeper: Nothing Needed
Everton's goalkeeping reserves are fully stocked for the coming season.
After his World Cup heroics, Tim Howard returns for his ninth season as a Toffee, backed up by Joel Robles.
The former Wigan man will presumably start in cup matches—as was the case last season—while Howard remains the undisputed No. 1.
The American has missed just three of the Toffees' last 259 Premier League fixtures and had his contract extended last season.
In terms of a third choice, Jindrich Stanek arrived in January to further supplement the position.
Defence: No First-Team Additions Required
Again, Everton are in fine fettle in this area of the field.
Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Leighton Baines are an established unit, and each is a guaranteed starter if fit.
In reserve, Bryan Oviedo and Luke Garbutt fill in at left-back, Tony Hibbert and John Stones cover at right-back, and Stones, Antolin Alcaraz, Shane Duffy and Tyias Browning can all deputise at centre-back.
As the season progresses, Stones has the potential to make himself a regular starter, perhaps gradually replacing the 36-year-old Distin.
Young talent will always be considered—which explains supposed interest in MK Don's Brendan Galloway, per the Daily Mail's Simon Jones—but Everton have bigger concerns elsewhere.
Midfield: Two Signings Needed
As we move through the field, a few more holes begin to appear.
Gareth Barry and James McCarthy start in central midfield but only have a seldom-fit Darron Gibson as deputy.
Adding the Bosnian would complete the Toffees' core, providing contrasting attributes and an ideal blend of youth and experience.
Martinez predominantly stuck with variations of a 4-2-3-1 formation last year and has Ross Barkley, Leon Osman, Kevin Mirallas, Steven Naismith, Steven Pienaar and Aiden McGeady as his options behind the striker.
Those names represent impressive depth, but the unit is missing Gerard Deulofeu, whose contribution must be replaced.
While it's perhaps not as big a priority as central midfield, the Toffees could do with another option out wide, especially with an extended fixture list.
Striker: A Marquee Signing and a Strong Understudy
Not for the first time in recent seasons, Everton need most help up front.
Lukaku and his 16 goals are no more—for the time being, at least—and however strong the rest of the squad appears, Everton will struggle without seriously strengthening here.
As of now, the cupboard is almost completely bare.
Arouna Kone has not kicked a ball for the Toffees since October 2013, when he was missing chances for fun. Coming off a major injury, it would be unfair to rely on the Ivorian too heavily.
The only other options are untested academy options, such as Conor McAleny or Chris Long, or using Mirallas and Naismith out of position.
This is Martinez's priority for the summer. Everton must find a reliable source of goals, and—ideally—bring in a second option as well.