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The Unknown Quantity

by Lyndon Lloyd

Tomasz Radzinski Even by Everton's standards it was a saga of tortuous proportions, but today Tomasz Radzinski will become Everton's second signing of the summer after weeks of bitter wrangling, a war of words and threats of official action between Everton and Anderlecht.

The Belgian club, having already lost striker Jan Koller this summer, were reluctant to part with Radzinski and were angry at what they perceived to be an illegal approach by Everton. Reports that they were prepared to have Everton charged by FIFA never came to fruition, but the off-and-on deal's chief snag was the transfer fee.

Everton's initial bid of £3.8m was rejected and with the Blues' well-known cash problems it looked unlikely that Radzinski's hopes of a dream move to the Premiership would be fulfilled. However, the negotiations were rescued from collapse by a final bid of £4.5m that sealed the deal and brought Anderlecht's top scorer in the Champions League last season to Goodison Park.

Despite his scoring record during his time in Belgium (38 goals over the past two seasons), the Polish-born Canadian international is still a little-known quantity in England. And Evertonians well remember the last time the club shelled out £4.5m on a an international player; Alex Nyarko's move from Lens last summer has thus far been an unmitigated disaster, and neither Ibrahima Bakayoko nor Slaven Bilic (also bought for the same fee) will be remembered all that fondly by the Goodison faithful.

But if Radzinski's reputation is to be believed, Everton could have picked the perfect replacement for Francis Jeffers. The word on the 27 year-old striker is that he is lightening fast and knows how to score goals which, if true, would make him the perfect partner for Kevin Campbell and compensate for the loss of Jeffers' pace. And having put two goals past Manchester United in last season's Champions League is always a good thing to have on your CV!

The surprised reaction on the part of some outside of Goodison at Radzinski's decision to turn his back on the chance to play in the Champions League again next season in favour of joining struggling Everton goes some way towards vindicating Walter Smith's dogged determination to land his man and bodes well for the coming season.

However, there is a down-side to signing a player of Radzinski's alleged calibre, and that is the pressure it puts on the club to get things right this season and show real signs of progress. If Tomasz impresses greatly despite Everton battling at the wrong end of the Premiership, the Premiership vultures will be circling Goodison Park looking to offer the new-found star the prospect of Europe once more and the higher echelons of the division. Tomasz Radzinksi could become another Lineker - in and out before Blues fans have a chance to take him to their hearts.

And, the player's loyalty to the cause notwithstanding, there is a very real danger of that very scenario occurring if Smith doesn't choose to - or isn't able to - strengthen the Everton midfield, an area that is the root cause of the team's problems. So far he has shown interest in every position except the midfield, and that is a cause for concern.

Without a creative spark to match the industry provided by the likes of Gravesen, Pembridge and Gemmill, Everton are going to struggle to provide Messers Radzinski, Ferguson and Campbell with any ammunition. Niclas Alexandersson and Alex Nyarko have not shown so far that they are capable of filling that role of provider so far, and it should be Smith's top priority now that he has got his most difficult task of the summer out of the way.

Despite the ease with which Evertonians have greeted the departure of Jeffers, the team are going to badly miss his goals and his mobility. If Tomasz Radzinski can replace the talent of Highbury's latest acquisition, the Blues at least have the ability up front to capitalise if the management can solve the dearth of magic in the midfield.

©2001 ToffeeWeb, 17 July 2001


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