With all the player exits happening after Everton so narrowly survived relegation, one individual’s recent return to Mersyside has almost gone unnoticed: Dele Alli.
Dele has had a torrid time since his deadline day move to Goodison Park from Tottenham in January 2022, including a disasterous loan move to Besiktas this season.
Then Everton manager Frank Lampard signed the Spurs forward on the day he also joined the Blues and replaced the ill-fated Rafa Benitez.
The former England star, once touted as among the best young players in Europe, had severely lost his way at Spurs over the previous few seasons and his form had fallen away spectacularly.
It was not a transfer that had been expected and didn’t really capture the club’s supporters as it might have done in seasons past.
And, there was the lingering question about whether the Toffees had again gone and splashed the cash on a player past it and no longer able to realise his potential or perform at the level he had previously reached.
There have been so many of these individuals in recent years who have cost a fortune in transfer fees and wages: Yannick Bolasie, Davy Klassen, Theo Walcott, Cenk Tosun and arguably Gylfi Sigurdsson too, are a selection of them.
After joining on that cold and dark January day, Dele failed to make much impression at his new club, despite Lampard’s desire to have him at Everton.
He did make one cameo appearance off the bench that counted.
That of course was coming on in the Crystal Palace game when the Blues came from two goals down to win and ensure survival at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
In that match Dele showed flashes of the sort of talent and creativity that had once made him such a higly sought-after footballer.
Unfortuntely, he didn’t carry on with that form and so was sent on what proved a disasterous loan in Turkey with claims that he lacked the right sort of attitude coming from the Besiktas camp.
All very worrying stuff in terms of his return to Everton with the added issue of an injruy to sort out as well.
I think instinctively most of us would probably be more than content to write him off and that may indeed be Sean Dyche’s own view too.
He’s not the sort of player that the manager generally likes, given that he lacks the kind of grit that Dyche prioritises in his players.
However, the manager also desperately needs more goals in his team and particularly additional attacking creativity as well.
Obviously, bringing in another one or two forwards at least, should be a transfer window priority this summer.
But, money is likely to he be very tight (unless there is investment or a takeover) and will have to be spent wisely, something the Toffees have signally failed to do in the past.
Getting something out of all his available playing resouces will have to be important.
Having a goalscoring threat from midfield turned out to be very important in Everton’s fight against relegation.
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s goals in particular proved critical, especially of course that winner on the final day against Bournemouth!
It was something I had thought could well be a crucial piece of the jigsaw if Everton were to find a way to avoid the drop.
Hopefully, next season Doucoure can continue in the kind of form he has shown since Dyche took over as manager.
But, he is not a creative player and there is a severe shortage of that in this squad. In theory Dele is exactly that sort of player that could improve that.
To be honest it does seem unlikely we will even see the player who once played for England at a World Cup perform to that level again.
Dyche has had a positive impact on the players he inherited when succeeding Lampard and Doucoure’s return to his best form is perhaps the clearest example of that.
It is probably a forlorn hope but maybe he can do so with Dele. Others in the game think this is the player’s very last chance to turn things around.
Perhaps over the summer, if he is fit, Dyche might well take a closer look at Dele and see if he can find a way to revive his career, because the former Tottenham star certainly has the ability to provide and score the goals this team so badly needs.