Grading the Toffees’ Summer Business

A new-look Everton have enjoyed a stellar start to the 2020/21 season | Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Everton fans are still in ecstasy over their summer, perhaps so much so that going unbeaten in their opening seven fixtures of the 2020/21 season still feels like a dream.

Ancelotti’s Toffees are well and truly off to the races, and the club have made it possible by pulling off some seriously impressive business in the recruitment area. Of course, signing a bunch of players and hoping for the best doesn’t always wield results, but Everton haven’t done that.

Instead, it feels like targets have been properly identified and the Toffees have instead brought in players to strengthen in positions where Ancelotti feels he needed the extra bite.

A good transfer window isn’t just incomings, though. It’s also departures and they’ve succeeded there also, shifting several fringe and deadwood options who weren’t fancied by the Italian and freeing up some funding which made the summer more affordable.

Here’s a review of Everton’s transfer window, graded on just how good each bit of business has been.

James RodriguezRodriguez has set the English game alight since moving to Merseyside | Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Signed From: Real Madrid (£20m)

Grade: A

It still sounds completely bizarre to say that James Rodriguez is an Everton player, but he is and he’s been a revelation.

The Colombian has endured a difficult few years as a Real Madrid player and was shipped out on a two-year loan to Bayern Munich during that time. Spells of good form – under a certain Ancelotti at both Real and Bayern – were surrounded by areas of inconsistency, injury and sitting on the sidelines, which left people questioning whether he was actually any good.

At 29, he was a risky signing for Everton. While it’s a long season that he must maintain his form over, it currently looks to have paid off. He’s already managed three goals and two assists in four Premier League games and operates like a complete Rolls Royce.

Nobody could’ve asked for a better start from the Colombian, and he could prove pivotal at several points throughout the campaign.

AllanAllan has been an incredibly important signing | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Signed From: Napoli (£21.7m)

Grade: A-

It’s hard to get excited about the bulk of other new signings when your club has just managed to pull off a deal for a former Real Madrid player, but Allan has also been a revelation.

The Brazilian signed from Napoli and has improved Everton’s midfield immediately. No settling in process has been required; Allan has been the robust, off the ball edge that the Toffees need. He’s made the third-highest number of tackles in the Premier League so far (12) and is key to allowing the likes of Rodriguez, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to get creative and do the fancy stuff.

He might not be the most aesthetically pleasing player, but he’s quickly proven vital to the team. An injury leaves him on the sidelines for the time being, but fans will hope it’s a speedy recovery for the 29-year-old.

Happy Monday ?? @Everton #SpiritofTheBlues

— Abdoulaye Doucouré (@abdoudoucoure16) October 5, 2020

Signed From: Watford (£20m)

Grade: A

There’s always a bargain to be had from raiding the relegated sides of last season, and Everton have picked the best of the bunch.

Doucoure is the final piece to completing their new-look – and absolutely mint – midfield three. The 27-year-old is a complete machine; he runs tirelessly on and off the ball and has an incredible awareness and technical ability to sweep up opposition attacks, before moving the ball accurately in transition.

Three well scouted and properly identified midfield signings have transformed Everton into a more balanced side, which just goes to show how important good recruitment is.

Niels NkounkouNkounkou has looked bright in early cup runouts | Pool/Getty Images

Signed From: Marseille (free transfer)

Grade: B

It’s hard to grade a player who’s only made three cup appearances so far, but Nkounkou could prove to be a steal for the Toffees. The 19-year-old rejected a new deal with Marseille and instead signed a three-year deal with Everton, tempted by the pull of Ancelotti. Can you blame him?

Primarily a left-back, the Frenchman has been called upon in the Carabao Cup and is unlikely to dislodge Lucas Digne anytime soon, but already looks impressive. He grabbed an assist against Fleetwood and has all the tools to become the ideal modern full-back.

Watch this space.

? | We have completed the signing of goalkeeper Robin Olsen on a season-long loan from AS Roma.

Welcome, Robin! #EFC

— Everton (@Everton) October 5, 2020

Signed From: Roma (season-long loan)

Grade: C+

It’s difficult to grade this one just yet, but the C+ takes into consideration that at least Everton were aware of Jordan Pickford’s myriad shortcomings and looked to rectify the situation while they still could.

Arguably, they should’ve moved to sign a goalkeeper earlier in the window with so many top options available, but let’s face it, anyone is an improvement on the Englishman right now.

Olsen joined on deadline day from Roma, having spent last season on loan at Cagliari. He kept four clean sheets from 19 appearances in all competitions and at just 30, gives the Toffees more competition in the goalkeeper department while they figure out a more permanent option ahead of next season.

Signed From: Norwich (£20m + £5m add-ons)

Grade: B

Another relegated teams raid, Everton added some much-needed strength to their defensive ranks with the deadline day signing of Ben Godfrey.

Godfrey was a standout in a poor Norwich side last season, and while they conceded a ridiculous 75 Premier League goals, it wasn’t all on him. At just 22, Godfrey looks like he could thrive in a more experienced side, where he’s given the time to develop his already impressive glimpses of quality into something more consistent.

The Toffees were light on numbers at the back with Mason Holgate’s absence through injury, thus Godfrey eases the burden on Michael Keane and Yerry Mina in the short-term, while potentially blossoming into a partner for Holgate in the long-term.

Transferred to: Southampton (loan)

Grade: B

Walcott hasn’t quite found his groove since joining Everton in January 2018. Now 31, it feels like the winger is over the hill and past the peak of his powers.

He managed just 11 goals and nine assists in 85 appearances for the Toffees and was never really fancied by Ancelotti. Moving to Southampton on loan isn’t ideal in that Everton have likely lost out on a transfer fee for the winger, who is out of contract next summer, but it does get a fringe player off the wage bill.

He’s unlikely to come back to Everton next season and will be of much more use to his former club Southampton. A solid move all round.

SandroSandro spent last season with Valladolid | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Transferred to: SD Huesca (free transfer)

Grade: C

Oh, Sandro. What happened?

Everton looked to have a steal on their hands when they triggered Sandro’s £5.2m release clause set by Malaga in 2017. The Spaniard had only been there for a season after leaving Barcelona, but had found his goal scoring form, bagging 16 goals and five assists from 31 games in 2016/17.

The replacement for the departed Romelu Lukaku, it didn’t work out. At all. He’s been on loan in Spain since 2018 and has only managed one goal in 16 appearances in the Everton shirt.

The nightmare is finally over, however, and he’s left the club. Believe it or not, he’s only 25.

Stekelenburg is back with former club AjaxStekelenburg is back with former club Ajax | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Transferred to: Ajax (free transfer)

Grade: C

Stekelenburg left this summer after four years in Merseyside, although you’d be forgiven if you forgot he was still an Everton player until recently.

The Dutchman signed in 2016 and enjoyed a solid first season before being ruled out with a leg injury in December 2016. He returned to the side in April 2017, but never found the number one spot again. He’s been a loyal servant to Everton and likely a great addition on the training ground, but at 38, it’s not a major loss.

At least it isn’t now that they’ve signed someone to replace Pickford, otherwise he’d have been in with a shout once again…

Transferred to: Paris Saint-Germain (loan)

Grade: D

Despite only signing ahead of the 2019/20 season for an initial £25.1m fee, Everton have already moved on Moise Kean to pastures new, which is disappointing.

Granted it’s only a loan, but there were high hopes for the Italian upon his arrival. A number of factors have contributed to them not being met, but it felt like Ancelotti might be able to get the best out of him. He was never going to break the partnership of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin this season, however, and moving to PSG will most definitely find him more minutes.

There’s a very good player in there, and at just 20, there’s plenty of time for him to succeed at Everton. Whether or not he’ll get the chance is a different question.

Transferred to: Norwich (undisclosed)

Grade: C+

Dowell has spent every season on loan since 2017/18 and, now 22, it felt highly unlikely that he was going to break through at Goodison Park.

A permanent move is best for all parties and the midfielder will go a long way in helping Norwich defeat the hangover of Premier League relegation.

Transferred to: FC Twente (loan)

Grade: B-

Markelo returns to his home nation for the season and will benefit from the move greatly.

The 21-year-old signed a new deal before departing and the club are keen to find him some first-team minutes, thus he’s highly thought of and has a lot to prove. He’s already made two appearances since joining and will hope for a successful season back in the Netherlands.

Transferred to: Reading (loan)

Grade: B

The 20-year-old lifted the Under-17 World Cup with England in 2017 and spent time on loan at Fleetwood earlier in the year. A season-long loan to Reading will prove a genuine test for Gibson and put him through the paces of senior football in the Championship.

Everton need young centre-backs, and the emergence of Mason Holgate has proved that there’s a pathway if you’re good enough. Gibson’s England youth level exploits put him in good stead, but this season at Reading could be the making of him.

It’s a challenge, but a good move for all involved.

↩️ | Dennis Adeniran has completed a season-long loan move to @wwfcofficial.

Good luck, @DennisAE7! ?

— Everton (@Everton) September 25, 2020

Transferred to: Wycombe (loan)

Grade: C+

England youth international Adeniran made the switch to Everton from Fulham in 2017, but is yet to find his way into te first-team set up at Goodison Park.

A loan move to Wycombe will also see him challenged by the demands of the Championship, which will be crucial to his development. Having represented England up to Under-19 level, he’s highly rated, but now 21, needs to prove that he can be an asset to the club.

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