Investment from billionaire businessman Farhad Moshiri in February of 2016 was celebrated wholeheartedly by the blue half of Merseyside, as it marked a long-awaited influx of cash, ambition, and hopefully progress for Everton Football Club.
If you had told an Evertonian in 2016 that in 2020 Goodison’s dugout would be patrolled by Carlo Ancelotti while global superstar James Rodriguez netted twice at the Gwladys Street End, they’d have gone mad with excitement. They’d be looking forward to 4 brilliant years of high league finishes, exciting new signings, and possible silverware.
However, the way that Everton got to their current position, sitting top of the league after winning 7 of 7 in all competitions to start the season, was anything but glamorous.
Despite over £500 million spent on transfers alone in the last 4.5 years, Everton have gone through 5 different permanent managers since Moshiri’s arrival, and have finished 11th, 7th, 8th, 8th, and most recently 12th. Such a large net spend with so little results is a clear indication of just how poor Everton’s transfer business has been since February 2016, and only now, in the summer of 2020, does it seem Everton have a real plan for their approach in the market.
Seeing as this summer’s window slammed close on Monday evening, I thought I would have a crack at ranking every notable Everton transfer window since Farhad Moshiri’s £87.5 million takeover in 2016.
We might as well just get this one out of the way. In the Summer of 2017, Steve Walsh and Ronald Koeman conducted the most incredible transfer business disasterclass I have probably ever seen. I talked about the signings made that summer plenty in my article “How Steve Walsh Ruined Everton” so I’ll keep my ranting brief this time around. Essentially, Everton sold their 25-goal/season striker, Romelu Lukaku, and did not replace him whatsoever, instead opting to sign three attacking midfielders in Gylfi Sigurdsson for an outrageous £45m, Davy Klaassen for an equally bad £30m, and an aging Wayne Rooney as part of Lukaku’s switch to United. They also overpaid for Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane after handing Spanish flop Sandro Ramirez a contract worth £100k a week for absolutely no reason. Just thinking about it is going to give me nightmares tonight. Horrendous.
6th. Winter of 2018 – £40m Spent
Notable Ins: Walcott, Tosun, Mangala
Notable Outs: Barkley
After the 2017/18 season inevitably proved to be a complete catastrophe, Koeman was given his marching orders and was replaced by David Unsworth on an interim basis, before Sam Allardyce was handed the reigns for the last 6 months of the season to ensure Everton would not endure their first relegation since 1951. Of course, Steve Walsh decided that some immediate incoming transfers were required in January, and so the club went out and got Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott for upwards of £20 million each. Both played reasonably well during the conclusion to that campaign, then fell off dramatically afterward, proving to yet again be awful overspends sanctioned by Steve Walsh. The additional loan signing of Elaquim Mangala proved to be completely irrelevant as he only made 2 appearances for the Blues before suffering a season-ending injury. Luckily for Evertonians, Walsh was sacked after the season and was subsequently replaced by Marcel Brands, who was given the near-impossible task of trying to clean up the mess that the Englishman left behind.
5th. Winter of 2017 – £28m Spent
Notable Ins: Lookman, Schneiderlin
Notable Outs: Gibson, Oviedo
January of 2017 was both Farhad Moshiri’s and Steve Walsh’s second window with the Toffees, and together they completed one decent piece of business and one horrific piece of business. The acquisition of Ademola Lookman for less than £8 million from Charlton proved to be a shrewd acquisition when Marcel Brands managed to sell him to RB Leipzig for over double that amount two and a half years later. However, this positive signing has since been overshadowed by the club bringing in Morgan Schneiderlin from Manchester United for a fee upwards of £20 million. Walsh predictably proceeded to hand the out of form midfielder £100k a week for three seasons. He largely failed to impress in an Everton shirt and his wages were finally removed from the books this summer when OGC Nice took him off Everton’s hands for a measly £2 million. What an awful signing that was.
Last summer’s window was not at all the club’s worst under Moshiri, but it certainly can’t be placed anywhere near the top. On one hand, Everton were able to sell a 29-year old Idrissa Gueye to PSG for nearly £30 million, as well as Lookman, Onyekuru, and Vlasic to Leipzig, Monaco, and CSKA respectively, with all three deals being at a profit. On the other hand, £28 million signing Alex Iwobi from Arsenal only scored 1 league goal and provided zero league assists in his debut campaign, while Fabian Delph failed to show the leadership and experience he was brought in to exude. Andre Gomes did not play as well as he did while on loan before his awful injury last year, and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin registered only 135 minutes before sitting out for the rest of the season due to multiple long-term injuries. Moise Kean did not hit the ground running whatsoever and Djibril Sidibe did not do enough to induce Everton into activating the option to buy in his loan contract. Although injuries were a large part of the 2019/20 season’s failure, the business during the summer before left much to be desired in hindsight.
The Summer of 2016 was not able to avoid Steve Walsh’s usual shocking decisions, as Bolasie was an egregious overpay and Ashley Williams left much to be desired at the back during the 2016/17 season. However, during this window, Steve Walsh made his two best bits of business during his dreadful tenure at Goodison Park. Firstly, he snapped up Idrissa Gana Gueye for just £7 million from newly relegated Aston Villa, who turned out to be a crucial player in the Toffees starting XI for 3 seasons before being given his dream move to PSG. Secondly, Walsh brought in a young striker by the name of Dominic Calvert-Lewin from his boyhood club, Sheffield United, for just £1.5 million. Boy, would the Blades like to have that one back! Calvert-Lewin’s progression started off slow, but he has continually improved each season at the club, scoring 1 goal his first Premier League season, then 4, then 6, then 13 last season. He now has scored 6 league goals already in just the first 4 games, bagging 9 in 6 in all competitions, including the first two hat tricks of his professional career. It took a few years, yes, but the signing of Calvert-Lewin has turned out to be an unbelievable deal and is looking to be by far the best business Steve Walsh completed while at Everton. On top of those two signings, Everton were also able to sell John Stones to Manchester City for a nonsensical fee of £50 million pounds which, based on the England International’s career trajectory since, has proven to be highway robbery by Everton. That, plus the two sensational bargain transfers of Gana and Calvert-Lewin, make the Summer of 2016 Everton’s third-best window during the Moshiri Era, but that isn’t really saying too much.
We have finally come across a window that was genuinely good! The summer of 2018 was Brands’ first window at the club, and he did not disappoint. Although the English media made it out to be the overspend of the century, the acquisition of Richarlison for £35 million from Watford turned out to be a bargain, as the Brazilian became undoubtedly the best player at the club during his first two full seasons and was called up to the Brazilian National Team for whom he scored a game-sealing penalty in the 2019 Copa America Final. Contrary to Paul Merson’s absolutely deplorable opinion about the transfer, it was a great move for both the club and player and certainly did not “ruin the transfer market”. Brands also managed to unearth a diamond in Lucas Digne that summer, who moved from Barcelona for just £18 million. He immediately proved to be a worthy heir to Leighton Baines and was arguably the best left-back in the Premier League during the 2018/19 season. At Everton, he has become, in my opinion, the third-best left-back on Earth at the moment, and Marcel Brands deserves a lot of praise for managing to bring him in for such a low fee. At this point, Everton could probably sell him for three times what they spent. On top of those two gems, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes were brought in and have both been consistent features of Everton’s strongest XI for the past two seasons. Under Ancelotti, both players have hit new heights in an Everton shirt, and have been key components of Everton’s white-hot start to the 2020/21 season. Overall, that window was very successful, and Carlo Ancelotti is currently reaping the rewards of it.
I mean, what else did you expect? Everton’s first legitimate window under Carlo Ancelotti has already proven itself to be the undisputed champion of the Moshiri-era. For the first time in a long time, there is a clear plan at Everton, and years of mediocrity and bad habits seem to be finally fading away. The pull of having a manager as decorated as Ancelotti at your club has been more than apparent this summer, as Everton have been able to bring in players that never would have even considered the Toffees if it weren’t for Carlo’s presence. Combine that with the negotiating skills of Marcel Brands, and you have yourself quite a window. Everton’s first signing, however, was not a big name, but rather an unknown prospect out of France named Niels Nkounkou. He was originally intended to be a signing for the Everton U-23’s but after incredibly impressive training sessions with the first team during pre-season, the young left-back managed to force his way into Ancelotti’s squad and has been very impressive during his two starts in the Carabao Cup so far. The second signing of the summer for the Toffees came in the form of £20 million Brazilian International midfielder Allan Marques from Ancelotti’s former club Napoli. The 29-year old has already shown to be the Idrissa Gueye replacement Everton lacked so dearly last season due to Jean Phillipe Gbamin’s rotten injury luck. So far during the 2020/21 campaign, Allan has been vital to the instant success of Carlo’s new look blues, as his dominance and composure in the midfield is vital to the new 4-3-3 system that has been employed thus far. Next through the door was another of Ancelotti’s historical favorites, Colombian superstar James Rodriguez. Everton somehow managed to bring the playmaker over from Real Madrid for free, only having to pay out the final year of his contract. James also took a massive pay cut to join the Toffees, and his signing has proven to be nothing short of sensational through his first 5 games for the club. He is already being touted as the signing of the summer, and his 3 goals and 3 assists so far back that up. Abdoulay Doucoure was the next to walk through the door for just under £20 million, which is significantly less than the £36 million bid that Everton had rejected by Watford about 14 months ago. Doucoure’s energy and presence in the midfield have already been on display. Finally, Everton sealed the deal with the addition of young English defender Ben Godfrey from Norwich for £20 million with add ons up to 25, who provides the center back depth the Toffees desperately need after the early season injuries to both Mason Holgate and Jarrad Branthwaite. The fact that all of these signings were made for so cheap, combined with the amount of deadwood shifted out, has led to a much better squad and financial situation for the Blues. Everton’s historic start to this campaign is enough proof by itself that the Summer 2020 Window has been by far the best under Farhad Moshiri, and I cannot wait to see how the rest of the season pans out.
Do you agree with my rankings? What would you change? Let me know @ParrettGost on Twitter! Thanks for reading.