Continuing on from last season’s 50m splurge on Yannick Bolasie and Morgan Schneiderlin, Everton have now spent another 54m on Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen.
These are decent signings. Pickford – though still relatively unproven – is certainly better than Robles or Stekelenburg. Klaassen is a young, creative attacking midfielder, who will be a lot more reliable than the spasmodic Ross Barkley, especially when it comes to decision-making. The prospect of the former Ajax captain forming a midfield triangle with Schneiderlin and Gueye is an appealing one.
But will these signings actually make any difference? Everton are in an awkward spot. Finishing 15 points above Southampton but eight below Manchester United, the Toffees are in a league of their own, and it’s one that is going to be incredibly difficult to get out of. Their league position and stature dictate the level of player they can plausibly hope to sign, and the level of player they can hope to sign rather dictates their league position.
This is true of all clubs to some extent, but it is easier for good coaching, good luck and a clever signing or two to help a team rise from 15th to 8th, or from 3rd to 1st. Climbing from 7th into the top four is a much more difficult proposition given the level of competition. Mauricio Pochettino has managed it with Spurs, but it’s fair to say that Koeman is not quite at the Argentine’s level.
This is why I suggest that as good as Pickford and Klaassen are, and while they both look necessary additions to the squad, I do not believe that they will help Everton do anything more than solidify their current role as the best team that isn’t really competing for a Champions League spot. Both will make the side a little more solid – Pickford with his shot-stopping and Klaassen with his ball retention as it compares to the likes of Barkley – but it is hard to see either moving the team to the next level.
Of course, there remains plenty of time left in the transfer window. Others will doubtless come in and it will be fascinating to see how the club replace Romelu Lukaku, but it feels as though Koeman may have to pull off some 90s-Wenger style transfer wizardry if Everton are going to come close to achieving their objective and truly challenging the ‘big six’.
What are your thoughts? Can Everton compete for a top four spot? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.