Mohamed Besic arrives at Everton as something of a bonus buy.
The Toffees have a reputation for reluctant spending during recent transfer windows, refusing to splash the cash without first offloading. So great was the need in attack—which Romelu Lukaku has now filled—most fans expected Roberto Martinez's transfer budget to be used solely on a striker.
Besic, though, has proved an intriguing exception.
The Bosnian international, bought in from Ferencvaros, supplements defensive midfield and is in line to play a key role during his first season in England.
Most reports on Besic highlight an aggressive approach, a polished technique and a game made for the Premier League—views Everton fans can now fully subscribe to.
Those watching his first action in a Royal Blue jersey could not fail to notice these assets.
As showcased by his very first touches for the Toffees, a fiery reputation is indeed paired with a silky touch and some impressive vision.
Two brief pre-season appearances have shown his excellent passing range and an almost arrogant comfort on the ball. He's fitted in immediately and is quickly forming a strong rapport with his new set of supporters.
Besic's statistics at the World Cup, where he earned praise from The Guardian's Jonathan Wilson for his performance against Lionel Messi, emphasise his vast potential.
He led Bosnia in many categories, including passing (223) and possession won (23) while recording the second-highest tally of tackles and interceptions (16) as well as successful dribbles (10).
From the early evidence, those predicting Premier League success for Besic seem highly accurate in their assessments. His game is tailor-made for England and even more suited to Martinez's patient, possession approach.
Everton face an extended fixture list this season, swollen by additional commitments in the Europa League—something that will provide Besic with regular chances to establish himself.
Initially, that seems a challenging task for the 21-year-old. Gareth Barry and James McCarthy have formed a strong partnership in midfield, adding similar grit and passing ability as possessed by Besic.
Disrupting that pairing seems a tall order, but additional fixtures will provide the Bosnian with a platform to shine.
Barry in particular was key to the Toffees last season but faded as the campaign wore on, perhaps affected by a relentless schedule.
Besic's arrival allows Martinez the option of keeping Barry fresh, and once he hands an opportunity to the Bosnian, he may find it hard to leave him out.
Equally, there are other ways Besic can find a starting place this season. Everton have experimented with 4-3-3 during periods of preseason, tweaking the 4-2-3-1 they deployed for most of last season.
This would open up another midfield slot for Besic, while his time at centre-back and right-back in Hungary could also lead to occasional stints in a three-man defence.
There may be initial questions about where he features, but Evertonians seems certain to receive prolonged sightings of Besic this season.
His transition won't be easy, but as Martinez has mentioned several times in interview, the Bosnian is rarely fazed on or off the pitch. Proving himself against some of the game's leading players is something Besic is likely to relish.
Armed with a passing repertoire to excite his new manager and a game primed for a cult following, Besic has all the tools to make a lasting impression at Everton.
It seems a matter of when, not if, Besic becomes an automatic selection.
Statistics via WhoScored.com.
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