Landon Donovan Back to Everton? Previewing David Moyes' Summer Transfer Moves
With Everton’s season over, David Moyes is expected to make a fair number of tweaks to his squad in the coming weeks and months. Last year’s resolute stance of keeping everyone together, whilst hardly freshening up the squad, is unlikely to be repeated.
Everton's minimum target should be to secure European football for next season, something they weren't in position to do for the majority of last season.
Everton will sell off some fringe players to raise funds, but it's likely that to raise money, one player from this list (which includes Marouane Fellaini, Jack Rodwell and Leighton Baines, and perhaps also Phil Jagielka and Mikel Arteta) will reluctantly have to be sold.
As much as Everton fans will abhor accepting this, it may be the only way Everton can get their hands on a new £10-15 million player.
If one player does have to go, selling Fellaini or Rodwell seems the most sensible option, as they play similar roles in the central midfield alongside Mikel Arteta. In order to predict Everton’s likely transactions over the coming months, a thorough squad analysis is required to examine likely targets.
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Currently: Tim Howard, Jan Mucha, Iain Turner.
Players most likely to move on: Iain Turner, Jan Mucha
Arrivals? One or two reserve goalkeepers.
Likely targets? Andy Lonergan, Keiren Westwood, Antonio Donnarumma, Mason Springthorpe (In).
Tim Howard will remain Everton’s number one next season. Although he started last season slowly, possibly due to his extended exploits with USA over the summer, he is an underrated Premier League goalkeeper and he made many notable saves this past season. His shot-stopping ratio is right up with the very best in the league, and his ability to continually punch or catch crosses consistently relieves pressure. In goalkeeping years, Howard is still young and should only get better, although he will want far more clean sheets next season than the nine accumulated this year.
In terms of backups, Jan Mucha has shown signs of itchy feet. Being the number two goalkeeper at Everton has been a tedious and short-lived occupation in reason years, such is Howard’s desire to feature as often as possible. It is probable that Mucha will go and seek first team action elsewhere. If so, a new backup for Tim Howard will board the understudy carousel at Everton.
Everton have continually been linked to Keiren Westwood, now out of contract, for a number of years. Yet it is more likely he would move somewhere (Sunderland, perhaps) where he would have a clearer path to the first team. Youngster Mason Springthorpe has already arrived from Shrewsbury, although he will be a few years away from the first team. Iain Turner, Everton’s third choice goalkeeper, is on his way to Preston, and in return Andy Lonergan has been training at Everton’s Finch Farm. It's hard to say if his experience (Lonergan has only played in the Championship) will be enough to convince David Moyes to put his faith in him as a worthy understudy.
Everton may well regret not keeping John Ruddy on their books last year, as his impressive displays have helped propel Norwich up to the Premier League. In goalkeeping years he is very young and will only improve, although his keenness to play every week was a major factor in his exit from Everton. Everton fans may monitor his progress next season with a tinge of frustration.
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Currently: Tony Hibbert, Phil Neville, Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, Johnny Heitinga, Joseph Yobo, Shane Duffy, Shkodran Mustafi.
Players most likely to move on: Johnny Heitinga, Joseph Yobo, Shane Duffy.
Arrivals? One left back, one centre back.
Likely targets? Scott Dann, Nedum Onuoha, Matthew Upson, Javier Torres, Sebastien Bassong, Mathias Jorgensen.
Everton have the fewest issues in defense. They are well stocked at right back. Seamus Coleman is surely a perfect fit to eventually replace Phil Neville when he ultimately retires, and Tony Hibbert can also fill in. A right back will only arrive if Moyes envisons a permanent midfield role for Seamus Coleman.
At left back, there would have been major concerns this past season had Leighton Baines suffered an injury. Neville and Distin can cover there, but surely a left back will arrive in the summer. Jake Bidwell and Luke Garbutt are both highly promising academy prospects, but are still a season away from being able to act as competent back ups. Baines gained a number of admirers after an impressive season, with Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City all being linked. Hopefully, for Everton fans, an incoming left back would act as backup to Baines, rather than as a replacement.
At centre back, with Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin first choice, it is very possible that Johnny Heitinga could leave Everton. Moyes would want a replacement, preferably someone taller. In spite of many Everton fans wanting to see Heitinga and Jagielka partnered together at the back, David Moyes has been unwilling to sacrifice Distin’s added height and natural left foot at left centre back. Heitinga has had to be content with a position in midfield, or on the bench, if everyone is fit.
After a strong first season, Heitinga has almost become an enigma, as games often seem to pass him by. At times he appears keener to scythe down the opposition than contribute in a way that's advantageous to Everton. Added to his generally languid performances this season, he is constantly in the media linking himself away from the club. Perhaps it is time for Evertonians to accept that the marriage is well and truly over. A £5-8 million transfer fee could be very useful for David Moyes.
Joseph Yobo will return to Everton from his loan spell at Fenerbahce, where he has just been crowned a league champion. He will be sought after by Fenerbahce, such was the success of his loan spell, and will most likely leave. However, Everton’s shrewd transfer bartering may well cloud this situation temporarily, as Yobo could be forced to return to Everton for a short while until an acceptable offer comes in.
Each team needs four centre backs in whom they can trust. On occasions when Distin, Jagielka or Heitinga have been out injured this past season, Moyes has seemed unwilling to thrust academy prospects Shkodran Mustafi and Shane Duffy into the fray. Instead, Moyes has opted to use Hibbert or Neville as emergency centre backs. With Duffy on the verge of international honours with Ireland, surely a manager so renowned for finding and honing young talent could have taken the opportunity to use one of his youngsters here? Or perhaps doesn't think that they make the grade just yet. If he doesn't trust them, then expect one of these two to depart.
As with Baines, Jagielka is likely to be heavily courted over the summer transfer window, although with David Moyes seeing Jagielka as Everton's future leader, he's probably less likely to be sold. In all likelihood, Everton will target one high-profile centre back to replace Yobo or Heitinga if one or both leave. Another younger defender may also come in.
Nedum Onuoha has been monitored closely by Everton for a number of seasons, whilst Matthew Upson and Sebastien Bassong were both scouted as replacements for Joleon Lescott. Both will feasibly be looking for new clubs by the start of next season, and both play on the left side of defence, which would complement Phil Jagielka.
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Currently: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, Leon Osman, Marouane Fellaini, Jack Rodwell, Ross Barkley, Jose Baxter, Magaye Gueye. (Seamus Coleman, Phil Neville, Johnny Heitinga, Victor Anichebe).
Players most likely to move on: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
Arrivals? Two or more wingers.
Likely targets? Chris Eagles, Landon Donovan, David Bentley, Joey Barton, Sebastian Larsson, Matt Jarvis, David Vaughan, Kieron Dyer, Diego Perotti.
In central midfield, Everton has a plethora of options. 4-4-1-1, 4-1-4-1 or 4-5-1 formations are David Moyes’ typical weapons of choice, and with Tim Cahill or Leon Osman behind the striker, there are two central positions to fill. At these positions, Everton has some of the best options in the league.
The first choice has generally been Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini with Cahill in front of them as a link to the forward. When Cahill is not fit, either of those two can push forward, but, as mentioned, Osman has recently excelled behind the front man.
If Arteta or Fellaini are out, Osman, Jack Rodwell, Johnny Heitinga, or Phil Neville generally step into the central slot. Watch out for Ross Barkley next season, as he could be a future option in this position. This abundance of options is why, if a high profile player must leave Everton for future transfer funds, it's likely to be Fellaini or Rodwell, as the other can fill in for the departed player.
If Everton are at their strongest in the middle, then out wide where they are most feeble. Everton lost Steven Pienaar halfway through last season, and have severely missed his skill out wide. Since he has gone, Seamus Coleman, Victor Anichebe, Osman and even Rodwell have been utilised as wide midfielders. None of these players would count themselves as wingers and only Coleman has enjoyed success in the role.
Osman is often wasted on the flanks, Anichebe seems to have been converted to a right winger to take the pressure off his abysmal scoring record, and Rodwell has stagnated this season, when he was expected to bloom (although he suffered more than his fair share of injuries last term). Playing out wide occasionally cannot have helped him grow as a footballer. Russian Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is the only recognised winger at the club, yet, apart from his knack of scoring memorable goals, his game has struggled in the Premier League. He may well return to Russia this summer.
There have been cries for Arteta to return to a wider role, such was the success he enjoyed in his early years at the club out wide. In fact, Osman’s late-season form in central midfield did occasionally force the Spaniard to play wider. However, even if Arteta is deployed on the flank, Everton would still be severely depleted on the wing, especially in the pace department.
Therefore, expect an influx of wide midfielders. Chris Eagles has been precariously close to joining Everton on a number of occasions over the past two seasons, scouted several times by Moyes himself. David Bentley was close to joining in January on loan, but chose the higher wages on offer at Birmingham.
Pursuing Matt Jarvis or Landon Donovan would be the choice of most supporters. Donovan would surely provide a viable goalscoring option, perfect on one flank if the 4-5-1 or the 4-4-1-1 remains Moyes' formation of choice. Targeting Donovan would be an astute move by Everton, certain to galvanise many supporters who became quickly attached to the industrious American during his previous spell at Everton.
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Currently: Louis Saha, Jermaine Beckford, Victor Anichebe, Apostolos Vellios, Yakubu, (Tim Cahill, Magaye Gueye).
Players most likely to move on: Yakubu, James Vaughan (sold).
Arrivals? Two strikers.
Likely targets? Nicklas Bendtner, Jay Bothroyd, Miroslav Klose, Gervinho, Danny Welbeck, Craig Mackail-Smith, DJ Campbell, Carlton Cole, Pablo Osvaldo, Demba Ba, Shane Long.
Everton’s striking options have looked increasingly barren for a couple of years now. Louis Saha had a particularly frustrating past season. He did manage to feature in almost 30 games, a quantity not often associated with the Frenchman, due to his uncanny knack of breaking down with injuries.
Despite this, Saha was sterile in front of goal until January, which meant he had suffered a goal drought in the Premier League stretching back to February 2010, almost a whole year! He eventually went on a mini mid-season scoring spree, and did finish with 10 goals, with seven in the league. However, with four coming in one game, it depicts just how much of a shabby season overall it was for Saha, considering the talent he possesses.
Jermaine Beckford could have been the top scorer in the Premier League. That is, if he had never been substituted, and played every minute. With his goals-per-minute ratio, he would have racked up just over 21 goals(!) Of course this just a fantasy, but his endeavours were impressive, considering where he was playing 12 months ago. Beckford was often hauled off prematurely due an inadequate offering, but this was to be expected such was the speed of his transition to the EPL. His 10 goal haul should be commended, and he will only improve on it next season.
When it comes to other options up front, Everton are desperately short. James Vaughan has just left, and Victor Anichebe, as discussed, now seems destined to be a winger. He has scored just 12 goals in almost 120 appearances, almost 50 of them starts, and this transition to winger seems to be as much for the fact that he is increasingly futile in front of goal as it is to utilise his strength and power in other areas of the pitch.
As for Yakubu, he will be sold for whatever Everton can get, although he causes Everton a slight conundrum: his lofty wage demands are scaring away many potential suitors. The Nigerian has never rediscovered his scoring touch since his horrific injury suffered at Spurs a couple of years ago, his one goal in 15 appearances will surely be the last statistic he records for Everton. With Everton’s obvious lack of options up front, fans can expect at least two additions here.
Everton very much need a big target man to hold up play, and offer something different to the strikers currently at Moyes' disposal. Jay Bothroyd has been heavily linked, rumoured to have already visited Goodison Park, whilst there have been rumblings of a move for Nicklas Bendtner.
If Bothroyd, or another target man is sought, then somebody else with a bit more youth, spark and speed will have to be found. If possible, this is where Everton may look to use money raised from an offloaded player, and seek some star quality here. Although stars are hard to find, especially given the frequent lack of funds at Everton, there have been snippets suggesting management may have some surprising plans here.
Rumours of a Premier League club bidding £12 million for Yannick Djalo, of Sporting Lisbon, have been linked to Everton. Djalo has been heavily scouted by David Moyes in the past.
Additionally, Everton is alleged to have made a bid for Gervinho, but he reportedly turned down the Toffees in favour of Newcastle. Miroslav Klose is another name believed to have visited Goodison Park in the past couple of weeks, whilst Danny Welbeck has also been linked. With money raised from a handful of departures, it would not be too surprising for Everton to buy a couple of strikers, with one in the £10-£15 million range. Watch this space.