Without delving too far into Marco Silva’s tactical philosophy and his desire to play fast-paced, attacking football, it is evident that a physical presence in centre-forward is crucial to his style of play. Due to the pressing nature of Silva’s game, he demands a strong, energetic striker to lead the line. Following this notion, Cenk Tosun appeared to be the perfect fit for Marco’s system prior to the beginning of the season with his athleticism and physicality being a major aspect of his game. It is no secret that Cenk is bereft of confidence and does not deserve a place in the Starting 11, evident from 3 goals in 30 appearances for the Turkish international.
Everton’s occasional spikes in form have often been associated with a number nine playing into the manager’s philosophy, with Tosun and Calvert-Lewin disrupting the opposition’s defensive positioning with their horizontal runs, creating space with their movement. At the beginning of the season, Cenk still had the confidence he built up from the second half of Allardyce’s tenure and was willing to provide energy to the attack with these runs that could cause issues for opposition defences but a lack of goals have led to him dropping out of the side altogether. In the Blues’ recent games (2W 1D 1L), a particular highlight has been the young Dominic Calvert-Lewin. His desire to challenge the opposition’s centre-halves and his willingness to make the horizontal runs that Silva wants has contributed massively to the faster attacking play that we have seen in recent matches.
Silva was vocal in his aim to operate with a 4-3-3 system with the Blues but this has failed to materialise due to, I believe, his lack of trust in the players he has to implement such a formation. At Watford, a midfield three of Doucoure, Capoue and Cleverley provided the balance needed to play in such a way that has only been seen in flashes throughout this season. This thoery could be reflected in the lack of a consisent striker contributing to Silva’s struggles in the tactical aspect of Everton’s performances this campaign.
Going back a year, Troy Deeney was ever present in the Watford lineup due to Silva’s admiration of his physical nature. The attacking style that was implemented at Vicarage Road often relied heavily upon Deeney disrupting defences and drawing centre-halves out of position that often let Richarlison come inside into his favoured left forward role. At Hull, Oumar Niasse’s energetic presence also caused problems for the defences of other teams by making the horizontal runs that are so crucial to Silva’s play.
There have been a few names consistently linked with a move to Goodison in the summer, especially Edin Dzeko and Jean-Kevin Augustin. Despite his age, Dzeko is still contributing consistently to Roma with 12 goals and 8 assists in 30 appearances for the Italian outfit this season. However, the physical aspect of his game will prove most appealing to Marcel Brands and Marco Silva in their potential recruitment of the Bosnian forward. His stature and strong presence cause problems for centre-halves but his declining energy will prove a major disadvantage for the final years of his career. It is unlikely that the Everton management team will look to acquire Dzeko’s services due to his age and the fact that he lacks the energy and fitness to complete a full season in the Premier League.
A genuine proposition that may prove a shrewd investment this summer is Jean-Kevin Augustin. The Frenchman has provided 8 goals and 2 assists for German side RB Leipzig this season. His energy and desire to press the back line has proven profitable for the 21-year-old and could prove crucial in the Blues’ bid to climb the table next season. His young age will appear appealing to Silva and Brands who aim to build a youthful side that can be in place for years to come and the former PSG player may just prove to be exactly what the manager looks for in his centre-forward role.
Although a striker is probably third or fourth in Silva and Brands’ list of priorities for this summer window, a centre-forward that can provide Calvert-Lewin with competition and that can play in line with how Silva wants could be crucial in the bid for European football next season. Everton have often been left without organisation and tactical solidity this season but a centre-forward that Silva can trust to challenge opposition defensive lines may just be the key to providing a genuine challenge for the 2019/2020 season.