One player who cannot be blamed for Everton’s worrying malaise is Leighton Baines. The long-serving left-back remains a pillar of consistency at the age of 32 and, deservedly, one of the first names on Ronald Koeman’s team sheet.
However, the Toffees will know that Baines cannot last forever. Though still solid at the back, Baines’ productivity at the other end of the pitch has declined somewhat in recent years.
The former Wigan Athletic full-back set up nine Premier League goals as recently as 2014/15 but manage just four in the last two seasons combined. Perhaps this explains why TMW are reporting that Everton could make a move for a younger model – Burnley’s Robbie Brady.
The Republic of Ireland international has played largely as a winger since returning to the Premier League with Burnley last January but impressed at full-back during a superb spell at previous club Norwich City.
An energetic runner with pinpoint delivery, Brady is about as ideal a replacement as Everton could hope to find for Baines – a typically modern full-back renowned more for his attacking qualities than his defensive nous.
The Sun reported in July last year that Brady had piqued Koeman’s interest after impressing at Euro 2016, scoring against both Italy and France. However, the former Manchester United youngster eventually stayed at Norwich before moving to Burnley in the winter.
The report claimed that he would cost £20 million then but, with the market exploding in the summer, you wonder if Everton would have to pay even more to take Brady from another Premier League club.
However, if Brady can replicate Baines’ 11-year stay at Goodison Park, he’d be a fine investment.