Since Romelu Lukaku departed Everton for Manchester United at the beginning of last season, the ongoing discussion has been surrounding who would fill his boots. Almost every team outside of the “big 6” are crying out for what Everton had with the big-Belgian, a young striker capable of bagging 20+ goals a season. Questions have been asked since Lukaku’s departure, as to why there was not an immediate replacement up top. These concerns have continued to escalate this season as an out-and-out striker continues to be a void Everton have been unable to fill.
So, where has it all gone horribly wrong in attack for the toffees? A lot of the blame has been thrown at the door of Steve Walsh and previous manager Ronald Koeman, where so much frustration and anger came from their shocking summer of recruitment. Whereas in more recent months the concern surrounding transfers has spread right to the top with Marcel Brands suggesting that he has faith in the development of Everton’s younger players and Mr Moshiri publicly stating that the seemingly bottomless pot of gold maybe empty.
After 3 seasons of consistency with Lukaku scoring 68 goals in 141 games, a number of players have tried to stake their claim to be Everton’s number 9. These players have varied from unknown entities in Sandro Ramirez and Cenk Tosun to shoe-horned/make-shift replacements in Rooney and Richarilson. Meanwhile, the most consistent option has appeared to be the youthful Dominic Calvert-Lewin and whilst criticism has rained over his performances this season it is clear for all to see that with the right coaching, development and ultimately time, DCL could become the answer to Everton’s problem. However, as we saw with Jermaine Beckford in the latter stages of the Moyes Era, without competition for place and a touch of class to learn from the pressure, the task at hand for DCL may prove to be too much.
With the 2018/19 season drawing to a close, the Transfer Rumour Mill will raise its head once again and countless names will be linked with the spot up top, who realistically should Everton be looking at? I’ve listed a shortlist below of transfer targets we could actually see pulling on the royal blue jersey next season.
A name that has been strongly linked with the Blues since the beginning of the year and one who’s speculation has been met with little interest is Edin Dzeko. The 32-year-old, boisterous Bosnian is in the latter years of his playing career to say the very least and many Blues were less than impressed with the £15-20M price tag that appears to be attached to him. Currently playing in Italy with Roma, Dzeko on paper has all the attributes that Everton so desperately lack at the moment. A strong presence in the box that would not be bullied on the ball could cause problems for Premier League defences, he certainly offers more than what we currently have available to us. He is a striker that has proven in different leagues and levels that he can score goals. With 55 goals in 99 appearances for a very poor Bosnia & Herzegovina national team and 60 goals in 126 games since joining Roma from Manchester City back in 2015, Dzeko could offer the Toffees something up top. Having played under various managers whilst consistently performing, something that our current crop of players seems to struggle with, Dzeko could provide a touch of class that our fans have been crying out for. A Premier League winner, with experience of playing in the Champions League Dzeko may thrive with the creativity of Bernard, Richarlison and Sigurdsson around him. Known for his more physical style of play, he might fit the Silva-style perfectly. While he would certainly not fit the criteria of Marcel Brands when looking for a youthful, top-class forward to help Everton progress, Dzeko may be the ultimate short-term solution to the long pain-staking problem.
Proving to be invaluable to Birmingham City in the Championship this season and finally finding fine goalscoring form, Che Adams is the youngest candidate on this short-list at the age of 22. With 33 goals in 108 games at the time of writing, Che certainly doesn’t provide the same physical threat that the likes of Dzeko might. However, he does certainly fit the Blues blueprint for signing top quality youth and helping them develop. Would he be the answer to the Everton faithful’s prayers? I fear the answer might be “no”. Whilst there is no arguing that Che Adams has all the potential to be a top-class talent, it is fair to suggest that what The People’s Club need right now is a ready-made solution and not another talent with potential that might never be fulfilled. Adams was not a guaranteed started in the Championship until this season and even though the quality around him might arguably be poorer than who he would play alongside at Goodison, it might just be a step too far to suggest he would hit the ground running in the Premier League. Whilst investment in the future is a key part of the Everton mantra, the price tag that you can imagine Birmingham wanting for the star-striker may be out of our reach. Especially with a real focus on trimming the fat and the wage bill on our books moving forward. Che Adams might be one for the future and it may be the talk of the terraces in seasons to come that Everton were linked to him but didn’t get the deal done. However, current form and circumstance would suggest that Che Adams would be viewed as a risk rather than a reward. When taking into consider current system and form, Dominic Calvert-Lewin would be a preferred option out of the two who fit a very similar mould.
There is a real sense of realism around this particular rumour. If you listen to comments made after his time at Goodison, Ronald Koeman will tell you that Giroud was all but a done deal. How different the past 2 seasons might have been, with a proven goal-scorer up top, the French International had all the makings of a fan favourite. His charisma, effort-levels and sheer skill when on a football pitch all seemed to be the recipe for success at Everton. Whilst family may have played its part in preventing the French international from stepping out in front of the Everton faithful back then, it may be that the time is finally right for the 32-year-old to don the royal blue. After a disappointing 18-months at Chelsea, Giroud appears destined to have “Super Sub” inscribed on his Premier League legacy. Having only found the back of the net 4 times in 34 appearances since his move to the Bridge, it is apparent that consistency has played its part in Giroud finding his form. If the move was to go ahead this summer, serious questions would be asked over his age, form, fitness and longevity. Many fans will remember the touch of class that Louis Saha provided upon his arrival from Manchester United, but fans will also think back to the injuries and fitness levels that left us all wanting more. Could Giroud, through no fault of his own, be cast in the same role? And at this point in time would Everton fans care that much about history repeating itself? Certainly, at the expense of a burst of quality up top, I think Everton fans would still be more than happy to see Giroud finally have a chance to prove himself consistently in the Premier League. With his contract running out at Chelsea I feel a more reasonable price-tag would be attached to him, when compared to the likes of Dzeko or Adams. And if the price is right, then why wouldn’t this be considered a viable option? Especially when it could prove to do wonders for the development of the young strikers already at Finch Farm on a daily basis.
I dare say this time last year those of us who tend to be fully focused on English football would not even know the name of Raul Jimenez. The young Mexican striker, failing to impress at Benfica 3 years since signing from a torrid spell at Atletico Madrid. 12-months-later we have all had our heads turned by the man making a name for himself at Molineux. At 27 years of age, Jimenez is at the peak of his career and has proved this season that he can cause trouble against the top-6. His style has often been compared to the likes of Zlatan and Olivier Giroud and whilst it remains to be seen if he can live up to the hype, many Evertonians maybe tantalised at the prospect of the Mexican pulling on the royal blue jersey next season. A case could be made that goals have not always been Jiminez’ strongest asset. With only 1 goal in 21 games for Atletico Madrid, with 18 goals for Benfica in 80 games and with only 15 goals for his country. Many might suggest that this season on-loan at Wolves is the blip, having scored 12 goals already in a spell of 30 games. Yet, it has to be said that the proof is very much on the pitch this season. The nurturing atmosphere around the newly-promoted side seems to have brought out the best in the Mexican international. On paper, although the goals may not have been as forthcoming, there is a strong case to suggest that the CV of Jiminez is more than enough to warrant splashing the cash come the summer. With talks of many top European sides being interested in Jiminez, the competition for his signature might become too tough for the toffees. Although in this era of Marcel Brands, it may be that a man who has convinced 3 talented lads from Barcelona to join us, might just make Raul Jiminez his next star-signing. With Premier League experience now under his belt and with Wolves having a fantastic record against the top 6 this season, Jiminez could provide that fearless approach that all top strikers need to succeed.
Last but by no means least is the man who I believe encompasses all of what Everton fans have been looking for. Young but experienced. Quick but can find the back of the net. Potential to grow but already very accomplished and more than capable of changing a game and winning a match. Timo Werner seems to have it all. At the tender age of 23, Werner has almost 200 Bundesliga appearances for Stuttgart and RB Leipzig and 23 capps for the German Senior Men’s Team. With a return a 9 goals at international level and with almost 60 goals in a 6-year club career, it has to be said that Werner could be the answer to Everton’s problems. Linked to top European sides such as Bayern Munich, Real Madrid as well as being linked to the rivals from across Stanley Park, it would be needless to say that Everton would face some tough competition before we could even imagine Werner in royal blue. However, with Lookman seeming to continue to be out of favour at Everton and with Leipzig (Werner’s current club) appearing to still be on the hunt for his signature, perhaps there is some room to bargain. Would Everton fans except the signing of Werner at the loss of Lookman? If we had looked at this dilemma a couple of months ago, I think the clear answer would have been no, especially with the poor form of Walcott continuing. However, in recent weeks when we have seen Silva opt for Brazilian flair on either wing in Richarlison and Bernard, it could be that the timing might be perfect to see the young German join the talented pool of players that are seeming to grow together as the season develops. With the Euros coming up in 2020, it is apparent that Werner not only needs regular game time but needs to be competing in a competitive league and playing with some top-quality players. Especially as Germany look to rectify the misery of the 2018 World Cup.
Obviously, this is only speculation and it maybe that we see none of the above sign for Everton in the immediate future. What is certain is that there will need to be a new number 9 at Everton next season. Someone who has the skill to put the ball and the back of the net. Whilst that decision is out of fans hands it is apparent that nothing, but the best is good enough…