Everton have confirmed Dwight McNeil as their latest signing as the 22-year-old Englishman joins from Burnley for around £20 million.
The former Manchester United trainee has joined Everton on a five year contract as he becomes the Toffees’ third signing of the summer.
McNeil’s arrival hasn’t been greeted with universal enthusiasm by the majority of Blues’ supporters with many worried about his performances last season the absence of goals and assists for the Clarets.
While the young forward certainly has talent this lack of productivity has understandably raised concerns about how much concrete outcomes McNeil will contribute to the team.
I share these concerns and I certainly can’t see McNeil coming anywhere near the sort of goal tally of Richarlison whose contribution Everton need to replace. This means the club still need to go into the market to address that issue.
So, what can McNeil offer this Toffees’ team and manager Frank Lampard?
McNeil is technically sound, has a good left foot, can beat a man one-on-one and is an excellent deliverer of the ball. He is also quite hard-working and so will contribute defensively.
He is also versatile enough to play in several different areas of the team obviously wide on the left but also on the opposite flank where he likes to cut inside and he can operate centrally too.
Although last season his stats were down on the previous seasons, in the past he averaged around five assists and two goals per season and he made 47 chances during the last campaign, which is more than any other Blues’ player.
Hopefully, at the very least he can replicate and possibly increase those past contributions over the course of the upcoming season.
McNeil has played mainly in a 4-4-2 formation when he was at Burnley. This isn’t a formation that Lampard generally uses and he has preferred a three centre-back system recently at Everton while he has also likes a 4-3-3.
One potential way that the new signing might play is as a right or left-sided forward alongide perhaps Anthony Gordon in a 5-2-3 to support a centre-forward in a three-man attack.
He and Gordon would be looking to press high and both would come inside giving the two wing-backs the space to overlap out wide.
McNeil could also operate as a number ten although Gordon, Dele Alli and also perhaps Alex Iwobi all could do that role.
However he does operate, at least on paper, McNeil will give Lampard another option and given his age and fitness he will hopefully stay healthy, something that this Toffees’ team desperately need.