Michael Keane: I think he’ll work out. Got the right profile for an Everton player. Raised in a bigger club, experienced disappointment, went a level or two lower, fought and improved, now ready to deliver on the potential somebody saw in him when he was in his teens. Hungry and could grow into a real player, one that the club may struggle to hold onto if they aren’t able to make serious in-roads in the next couple of years. The prospect of a Keane-Williams partnership at centre-half, with a couple coming through, is encouraging.
Jordan Pickford: Everton needed a new keeper. Pickford looks promising and confident and resilient. It’s been a while since Everton have had a keeper with these qualities and, therefore, this potential.
Davy Klassen: to be fair, I’m working off statistics here and Koeman’s judgement. The one game I actually watched him play (Europa League Final against Man U), he was swamped, out of his depth and unable to influence the game. One game, though, does not make a player. His statistics, his youth, and the fact that he has at such a young age been the captain of Ajax suggests people see things in him. And if the Dutch stereotype is anything to go by, he will, at least, be a more consistent and thoughtful alternative to Ross Barkley.
Sandro Ramirez: given that all I’ve seen of him are YouTube clips, let this be tempered by caveats of all sorts – the stated and unstated. He looks more mobile than Lukaku. He looks (on YouTube) a better finisher, a harder worker and a better fit for the kind of team Koeman is assembling. Will he score goals consistently? Or at all? Remains to be seen. His brief history suggests 1 every 2 games. On a par with Lukaku. Final caveat – apparently, he needs love. Koeman doesn’t always do love.
Two to be loaned out; Mathis and Henry Onyekuru: neither going into the first team, apparently. In fact, Onyekuru is on his way back from whenst he came. But they’re strikers and they’re young. Good business, or potentially so.
The rumours; Rooney and Giroud:
Rooney? If you’d asked me six months ago, I’d have said that Everton don’t need him. His legs are gone, his best years are gone and he’s nothing to offer even a club at Everton’s level (just below the top 6). Now that it’s been mooted (most-likely fuelled by nostalgia) I’m beginning to think – just maybe! Could Rooney offer Everton some kind of experience they don’t have? Could he see it as his final hoorah and, for 18 months, get himself fit and deliver by virtue of motivation and regular football? Could he be the mentor the younger players need in the big moments, a vital bit of experience in Europe, and an important if intermittent presence in a year or two of transition? Might he be motivated to be fit by the idea of finishing his career as a hero at his boyhood club? I’m almost convincing myself. I want to believe it. I think I nearly do. Does anybody else, even at the reported £200,000 a week?
Giroud: I spent three years of my life living in close proximity to the old Highbury and Arsenal, during the dawn of Arsene Wenger’s tenure. I’ve a not so secret affinity for Arsenal – so long as Everton aren’t in the equation - and as such I’ve followed them closely over the years. I agree that Giroud is not the answer to Arsenal’s questions, but I think he’d be a hell of a player for Everton. I think if you give him extra games and surround him with pace and power of the type Everton are assembling (Bolasie, Ramirez, Lookman, Mirallas), coupled with the central players like Schneiderlin, Davies, Klassen, and the advancing full-backs like Baines and Coleman, you might just be onto something. In an organised and structured team (like France, for example, as opposed to Arsenal’s helter-skelter), Giroud has thrived. And if there’s anything we’ve learned about Koeman, it’s that he likes structure.
The Lukaku soap-opera:
Lukaku is long gone, psychologically long-long gone. Let him go. Take no less than the £75 million being talked about. I’ve said it previously and I’ll say it here again whilst also saying he needs to be sold - he’s probably as good a striker as Everton could hope to have at this stage of their evolution. However, he is not (as some media outlets have reported) a hard worker. Never has been and, in my opinion, never will be. This is why I’d have my doubts about him in Jose Mourinho team. He’s not a Didier Drogba. He doesn’t use his physical presence like Drogba did. Lukaku, contrary to what you will often here him described as, is completely playable. He doesn’t like tight-marking. He doesn’t work particularly hard. His first touch isn’t great. He’s best when you’re already two-nil up. But…but…but…he’s only 24….But and however…he’s also gone, my fellow Evertonians, gone in his heart and mind and his legs. So, let him go. Take the money, buy Giroud, surround him, the French man, with legs and love, and let Rooney back him up. And then gauge how the kids are coming through. Perhaps make another two signings, a full back and another central midfielder (because Barkley, too, is gone).
The Barkley soap-opera: he was offered a bumper contract. He didn’t sign it. It might be because he doesn’t care too much about Everton and being an Everton boy in the end of the day, or it might be because he doesn’t get along with Koeman and hasn’t appreciated the public criticisms of him. But it in the end it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t want to be at Everton and despite the fact that he has improved (as Lukaku has) under Koeman, there are still a lot of questions as regards Barkley; his final ball, his decision making in key moments, and his positional sense.
I’ve watched both Barkley and Lukaku on the TV and in the flesh, several times, and while I see their potential I’m not yet convinced that either will ever be what the optimists believe they will become. For me, Lukaku lacks that killer element, that ruthlessness and dirtiness of a Diego Costa; his closest contemporary. He’s certainly no Drogba either. And Barkley, I can see the Gazza comparisons, except Barkley is actually more dynamic and powerful, but he lacks Gazza’s vision and deft touch and fluid beauty. You can say a lot of things about Paul Gascoigne, but his football intelligence was supreme. Purely and exclusively instinctive but none the less sublime. Barkley is no Gazza. So, sell Barkely too, I say. If for no other reason than because he doesn’t want to be there. Not enough. If he did, it might be different and I might consider him different to Lukaku. But the truth is that both players are the better and more valuable for having had a season under Koeman and we Everton supporters should think about that and give Koeman time to work with these new players and see what he can do.
Overall impression in early July 2017: cautiously optimistic (Doesn’t get much better at Everton, does it?)