Everton's 'if only' XI if they had kept their best players, led by Wayne Rooney

Everton's Romelu Lukaku

Imagine an Everton team with their best players playing at their peak, how good would they be?

England's Wayne Rooney during the stadium visitEngland's Wayne Rooney during the stadium visit

Everton have for a long time been perceived as a selling club, but what if they still had all their best players, playing their best football, what would they look like?

We take a look at their best 'if only' XI. 

Tim Howard - Goalkeeper

Signed from Manchester United in 2007 in a £3 million deal after an initial loan, Howard was Everton's number one in goal for the best part of nine seasons, signifying terrific value, particularly in the current market. Howard was impressive throughout those years, and although at times he appeared erratic and his decision-making could be questioned, he was at the top of his game during the early stages of his time at Everton. While his performances dipped in the latter stages of his Everton career, Howard was on his day one of the Premier League's top shot-stoppers. 

Seamus Coleman - Right back

Signed by Everton for £60,000 from Sligo Rovers, Coleman has long been regarded as one of the biggest transfer bargains in Premier League history, particularly amongst defenders. Currently playing as part of a back line that consists of Phil Jagileka, Ashley Williams and Leighton Baines, Coleman has been impressive over the last few seasons as a mainstay of Everton's defence and has been constantly been the subject of rumours every time the transfer window opens. 

Leighton Baines - Left back

Like Coleman, Baines has been a mainstay of the Everton back line and has formed a formidable partnership with Coleman as they have cemented their places at left and right full-back for the club. Signed from Wigan Athletic in a deal worth £6 million in 2007, Baines has shown Everton fans his full repertoire, with goals coming regularly from free-kicks, and his marauding runs down the wing. Everton have done well to fight off the challenge of clubs trying to secure the services of Baines, much in the same way that they have done with Coleman. 

Phil Jagielka - Centre back

At his very best Jagielka was one of Everton's most inspired signings, forming a formidable partnership with Sylvain Distin and more recently John Stones during his Everton career. During his time at Everton, after signing from Sheffield United in a £4 million deal in 2007, Jagielka has cemented his place within their defence that resulted in him being named club captain in 2013. 

John Stones - Centre back

This summer Manchester City paid Everton £47.5 million for Stones, indicating that they see something very special in the player. Stones has huge potential and while fans at Goodison Park only saw glimpses of it, it is fair to say that had they kept Stones, he may have gone on to be one of the club's all-time star players. Stones has a turn of pace and ball control rarely seen by a defender, and that will have been one of the deciding factors in City paying Everton the fee that they paid for the 22-year-old defender.

Marouane Fellaini - Defensive midfield

Fellaini divides opinion on whether he should be selected in a team and where, but there is arguably a place for the Belgian in an XI of this nature. At Everton the midfielder achieved almost cult like status and scored a number of goals of the highest importance to Everton fans. Playing in a defensive midfield position, Fellaini gives you a certain fight and determination, and while you could argue that his style is overly aggressive, it has an impact on the game and is effective. 

Manchester United's Marouane Fellaini in action with Hull City's Adama DiomandeManchester United's Marouane Fellaini in action with Hull City's Adama Diomande

Yannick Bolasie - Left wing

Signed this summer in a deal worth £30 million from Crystal Palace, Bolasie is part of the new-look Ronald Koeman side that is being put together and consists of Ross Barkely, Romelu Lukaku and Bolasie. Bolasie is creative, and that is what sets him apart from other wide players who could have made this list. What makes Bolasie unique though is the route he has taken to make it as a Premier League footballer, and a £30 million one at that. Bolasie started out playing football for Hillingdon Borough in the Southern Football League, the rise has been meteoric and the Congolese midfielder deserves the place on the wing for Everton, despite competition from current players Aaron Lennon and Gerard Deulofeu. 

Steven Pienaar - Right wing

Pienaar has twice signed for Everton and will go down as a worthy addition to any Everton side, if at the top of his game. Signed from Borussia Dortmund for £2 million in 2007, after an initial loan, Pienaar cemented his place in the side with a number of impressive performances, before Tottenham Hotspur stepped in to secure his signature in 2011 for £3 million. While the move to Spurs didn't work out as planned, Pienaar was such a favourite with the Toffees that he returned in July 2012 for £4.5 million. On his day Pienaar could weave magically around the pitch and it was this that made the player a firm favourite at Goodison Park. 

Tim Cahill - Attacking midfield

Cahill, like Fellaini, achieved almost cult like status at the club, Cahill was one of Everton's best signings in the Premier League era, having arrived on Merseyside in a £1.5 million deal in 2004. Cahill scores an impressive amount of goals for a midfielder, for Everton he managed 68 goals in 226 games. Cahill was inspired signing and there is even case to be made that Cahill may be Everton's best piece of transfer business over the last 20 years.

Australia's Tim Cahill celebrates his second goal during their Asian Cup quarter-final soccer match against China at the Brisbane Stadium in BrisbaneAustralia's Tim Cahill celebrates his second goal during their Asian Cup quarter-final soccer match against China at the Brisbane Stadium in Brisbane

Romelu Lukaku - Centre forward

The signing of the Belgian international for £28 million from Chelsea in 2014 was met with a lot of scepticism, as it was viewed that Everton may have overpaid somewhat for the forward. But as Lukaku has gone on to prove, it has been money well spent. Since the transfer Lukaku has scored 43 Premier League goals in 106 games for the side. But where the players stats will take a further up turn in fortunes is that as a player Lukaku is improving, something Everton will start to see the benefits of. 

Wayne Rooney - Centre forward

Rooney is the pick of the bunch, having left Everton at such a young age for Manchester United for £25.6 million in what was the highest fee ever paid for a player under 20-years-of-age. Rooney went on to win a number of trophies at United and Everton will have wished they could have held on to him longer. But despite leaving Everton so early on in his career the England captain will go down as one of Everton's great players. If there is one defining moment for Rooney as an Everton player it is surely the moment when on 19 October, a 16-year-old, scored a last-minute winning goal against Arsenal in 2002. 

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