Everton are likely to finish in the top seven slots and could yet end up higher in the table if results go their way. With Europa League football looking likely next season, signing a few more players to increase the quality and quantity will be imperative this summer and the club has the money to spend.
The future of Romelu Lukaku has pretty much been decided after his refusal to commit to a new contract. That means the club should look to replace him as soon as possible as he won’t be sticking around. Another area Ronald Koeman needs to add reinforcements is the defence.
To his credit, Koeman identified that the defence wasn’t getting enough cover in the midfield and spent big money to bring in Morgan Schneiderlin. The Frenchman had previously worked under Koeman and has taken no time to acclimatise, thereby adding more balance to the team. That doesn’t, however, take away the fact that Everton’s centre-backs haven’t had the best of seasons. While Funes Mori has improved compared to his debut season, Ashley William’s form has fluctuated after his move from Swansea City.
Phil Jagielka is well past his peak and he needs to be replaced by a player who can remind the fans of his younger self. One player who comes close is perhaps Michael Keane. The Manchester United academy graduate has had a brilliant rise at Burnley where he has taken the inputs of Sean Dyche pretty well and become a no-nonsense defender. Of late, we’ve seen the rise of the ‘ball-playing centre-back’ and it seems like the basics have been overlooked.
Koeman himself was a centre-back and a pretty good one at that. Keane is still pretty young and is far away from hitting his peak years as a centre-half. If he can develop well with someone like Koeman at the helm, he could be as good a player as Jagielka was when at his peak.
Everton will have to pay £20m for Keane’s services and although it seems like a steep fee, he still has plenty of time on his side and will be a long-term signing. The Toffees are expected to beat competition from Manchester United for the lad.
A full England international now, Keane can complement the likes of Tom Davies and Ross Barkley in having a group of young English players who can potentially form the core of the team for years to come.