With Everton set to fall just short in their pursuit of Champions League qualification, Jack Beresford picks out three essential summer recruits.
As the final whistle blew at St Mary’s, Roberto Martinez may have been facing up to the realisation that Everton are set to miss out on a top four finish.
Unlucky for long periods of the game and the victim of two near-comical own goals, the Toffees’ 2-0 defeat to Southampton means that – barring a Magpies-shaped miracle when Newcastle visit Arsenal on Monday – there will likely be no Champions League football at Goodison Park next term.
But with eight wins from their last 10 in the Premier League, there’s still plenty for Everton fans to shout about and though the futures of Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku are in the balance, the successful recruitment of three other Premier League stars could set the Toffees up nicely.
Scott Dann – Crystal Palace
While Jason Puncheon was arguably the signing of the summer for Palace, Dann’s move to Selhurst Park in January gave the Eagles the kind of defensive solidarity lacking under Ian Holloway.
Since Dann’s arrival the Londoners have picked up 23 points from the 36 available in the Premier League, with the defender featuring in the seven wins and two draws racked up during that run.
Though Everton boast arguably the best young defender in the Premier League with John Stones and Phil Jagielka continues to impress, the club still relies on Sylvain Distain who, at 35-years-old, is nearing the twilight of his career.
With Antolin Alcaraz proving unconvincing thus far for the Toffees, a summer move for the Liverpool-born Dann could prove a shrewd bit of business.
Cheik Tiote – Newcastle United
Manchester City may have recently been linked with a summer swoop for the Ivorian, but it’s Everton who should move for the midfielder with the promise of Europa League football, a realistic shot at the top four and, crucially, regular first team football.
The Toffees could be in the market for a player of his ilk with Gareth Barry’s loan deal at the club set to end and Ross Barkley likely to be the subject of intense transfer speculation. Barry is out of contract at City and, while he could return to Goodison, Tiote offers a long-term solution to any concerns over the centre of the midfield.
A favourite among Newcastle fans, Tiote could yet leave the Toon amid growing unrest at the lack of ambition being demonstrated by the St James’s Park outfit.
Wilfried Bony – Swansea City
Undoubtedly the most urgent of the three targets, the likely departure of Romelu Lukaku back to Chelsea or alternatively one of Europe’s other tops clubs could see Everton on the hunt for a striker capable of leading the line and, crucially , scoring goals in the Premier League.
While European stars like Ciro Immobile have been talked of as potential targets, if Martinez is serious about bringing Champions League football to Goodison, then a move for Bony is essential.
A tally of 16 top-flight goals is impressive and if Everton are to prise the Swansea man away from the Liberty Stadium, it could take a bid of up to £20 million. However with the Blues offering European football and the chance to compete at the other end of the table, Bony could well be open to a bid.