Everton transfer window a big success

Everton (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Everton (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /

As the dust settles on the 2020 summer transfer window, we look back at the business Everton have done and ask how successful it was.

Before this window opened, I wrote that I felt this was perhaps the most important transfer window that Everton had faced in many years.

After a truly terrible 2019-20 campaign and a succession of inconsistent and underachieving previous seasons, it was imperative that the Toffees spent well and fundamentally improved the team before the new season started. Especially if they haboured any realistic hopes of catching up with the Premier League’s elite.

The key area of the team that simply had to be strengthened, as everyone agreed, was the side’s midfield. The Blues existing midfielders, Tom Davies, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi and even Andre Gomes had been distinctly average or downright awful, for almost all of the preceding season.

The lack of energy, consistency, workrate and commitment to the cause, especially after the season re-started, together with the questionable quality of some of those players, helped to consign the Toffees to a dreadful 12th place finish.

And this was despite the best efforts of the club’s new manager Carlo Ancelotti, perhaps the most important signing of the last twelves months, who had brought about a temporary revival when he joined in December.

Solving the problems in midfield was so crucial that I thought it should take precedence over any other areas of the team, even if that meant there were no other signings made.

Ancelotti had clearly identified several key players in the middle that he wanted. Napoli midfield enforcer Allan was on his radar for a long time and quickly as the window opened, the rumours started that the Toffees were in pursuit of the Brazilian.

Other rumours abounded to, with Everton linked with an almost endless supply of footballers from across the European continent. Most of those stories centered on midfielders and full-backs.

Then as the club appeared to be inching closer to finalising a deal for Allan, stories started to re-appear in the media that Everton were genuinely interested in signing out-of-favour Real Madrid star James Rodriguez.

There had been what seemed at the time, some highly speculative talk about James joining the Toffees back in January soon after Ancelotti took over the reigns at Goodison Park. But most people thought that was hyperbole.

Could the Blues really be seriously prepared to try and persuade the Colombian superstar to swap Madrid for Merseyside? And, was the Ancelotti factor for real?

Well it turned out that the answer was yes to both questions, with Ancelotti’s personal involvement crucial in smoothing the way for him to come to Everton.

There was around this time some speculation, including by this writer, that there had been disagreements over transfer targets and that signing Rodriguez was very much Ancelotti’s wish and not a priority for Marcel Brands.

Then when everything seemed to be getting stuck and slowing down, reports surfaced that the Blues boss was getting frustrated at the lack of progress with these moves and might even throw in the towel if he didn’t get these players through the door!

In the end this turned out to be probably no more than pure idle speculation, but these deals did seem to take a while to sort out and in the meantime Blues fans were getting nervous.

And as they were trying to get used to the idea that one of the world’s most popular, high-profile and well known athletes could soon be gracing the grand old lady, another long-time target was being heavily linked with a move too.

That player was Abdolaye Doucoure. Ancelotti’s predecessor Marco Silva had been desperate to sign the Frenchman last summer, but the deal hadn’t happened as Watford resisted the Toffees advances and demanded a fee that the club wasn’t ultimately prepared to pay.

Now, twelve months on and with the Hornets relegated to the Championship and Doucoure keen to leave, things had changed and Watford were much more open to a deal.

So eventually after much huffing and puffing, Everton got the three signings over the line and the fans tried to digest the magnitude of it all.

Obviously James’ arrival was the most spectacular and headline-grabbing. In an almost unprecedented coup, Everton had managed to snap up one of the most talented and brilliant footballers of his generation for a tiny fee and a fraction of his wages in Madrid.

In fact it turned out that the Toffees probably hadn’t paid any fee for him at all, so making this one of the most unlikely transfers by an English club in recent years.

Now the question was could they all gel together and make an immediate impact as the new season loomed? As we know the answer was emphatically yes, as the Toffees got off to a flyer playing some superb football and sit top of the table with the only 100% record!

Then yesterday, the Blues added two more players to their stable. They signed the promising young defender Ben Godfrey from Norwich City and Sweden international goalkeeper Robin Olsen from Roma to provide some much needed competition for, or to replace, Jordan Pickford.

The club also managed to offload Walcott who returned to his boyhood club, Southampton and finally Sandro who has at last left Everton as well.

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One player who arrived just before the official window opened and who might ultimately prove just as good a signing as any of these, is Niels Nkounkou. Getting him from Marseille for nothing seems like a masterstroke at the moment, as the teenage Frenchman has been a revelation and looks to have a great future at Everton.

To summarise then, this has been a superb transfer window for the Blues. They have utterly transformed not just the midfield’s quality and effectiveness, but the whole team’s mentality and approach with the three new stars, Allan, Doucoure and Rodriguez leading the way.

While I would have ideally wanted a forward in when the club let Moise Kean leave on loan, that’s me just being greedy and there’s still time to possibly resolve that issue before the final guillotine comes down on the domestic part of the window.

So well done to Farhad Moshiri for finding the money, to Ancelotti for his persuasive skills and to Brands, who has proved so important behind the scenes getting the deals done. Verdict: 8.5/10.