At the end of last season and after the predictable sale of Richarlison, it was pretty clear that we needed at least 4 players to complete the first team and provide vital cover.   Those players were:

·         A forward to cover Calvert-Lewin’s absences

·         A centre back of courage and leadership

·         A specialist midfield holding player

·         A (ideally left-footed) right wing / forward

As it happens, we have not only recruited each of these players, we have almost completely overhauled the squad and first team.  That is a very bold move in just one transfer window.


Overall, I give Lampard and Thelwell a 7 out of 10 for their efforts.

Pros: We have covered all of the 4 strategically important positions and more besides. Overall, the squad is stronger than last season by some measure so we should handle the inevitable absences much better.  We also look much tougher physically and hopefully mentally. 

Cons: Although the squad is stronger, our first team is arguably weaker than our fully fit starting XI of last season – at least in the final third.  This is because Richarlison repeatedly dug us out of matches last season with his drive, determination and moments of class in the final third. I don’t see Maupay in that league (hence he’s playing for us and not Spurs). 

Coming windows will need to be more ambitious as to quality (rather than quantity) but we have enough to regain some dignity with a top 10 finish.

Could we have done better?

I’ll look at the essentials first.

In terms of strikers, Maupay gives us a similar goal output to Richarlison at lower cost, but he’s not as good. Elsewhere in the market there were some good deals including the potentially brilliant Jovic for free to Fiorentina, Zirkzee from Bayern to Bologna for £9m, Kalimuendo to Rennes from PSG for £18m, Pinamonti on loan from Inter to Sassuolo and Hojlund (a Haaland-esque young Dane) moving to astute buyers Atalanta for £15m.   Others will disagree but I’m glad we didn’t end up with a player like Batshuayi.

In terms of right wing / forwards, it’s hard to see a better deal (for anyone left-footed) than the £15m (rising to £20m) fee for McNeil. Neres and Tete were cheap due to the situation in Ukraine but, importantly, McNeil gives young Patterson good defensive cover. I expect them to form a decent partnership.

In terms of holding midfield, Amadou Onana is a genuine Champions League quality talent, albeit raw. As I generally say, we shouldn’t be spending more than about £20m on any player given our financial situation but it seems we pay the £35m on the drip over a few years which has made the other deals possible.  So good work from a financial point of view perhaps.

Could we have done better? It will be interesting to compare him to Adams and Roca (at Leeds), Doucoure (at Palace), Palhinha (at Fulham) and Kamara (at Villa).  Weigl (a former “new Busquets”) and Ampadu look like good loan signings.  On balance it looks very encouraging but there’s some stiff competition here.  We must give the young man time to acclimatise before we judge. He could end up being a tremendous signing.

In terms of centre-back, I’m torn.  For the price and experience, I can’t see better options than Tarkowski and Coady.  However, early days I know but I’m not convinced either is as good as Mina – and I have mixed feelings about Mina (even when fit).  It might have been better getting just one experienced player and then a younger player with much greater potential like Richards (Palace), Kotchap (Southampton), Thiaw (leaving Schalke for Milan) and Nianzou (ex-PSG graduate leaving Bayern for Monaco).  But seriously, can’t really complain at the price we paid. Good business.

In addition to the essentials, we’ve also got a few more.

Vinagre looks like a decent LWB / LB so we don’t need to have this daft debate about whether Nkounkou is ready (he’s not) or try using players like Kenny, Coleman or Iwobi for a role they’re completely ill-suited to. Also allows Mykolenko to move into a back-three if needs be.  Good loan signing.

Gueye we know all about and Garner is young but with plenty of experience on loan at a high standard. They both look like decent signings over the short and long term respectively.  Again though there’s stiff competition here. We can compare them to Gilmour to Brighton (£111m), Mangala at Forest (£13m) and the excellent Camara who joined Monaco from Salzburg for the same price. 

Other good deals include Fulgini (joined very astute buyers Frankfurt for just £6.5m), another Camara (Olympiacos to Roma on loan), Svanberg to Wolfsburg for £9m and Ferguson leaving Aberdeen to replace Svanberg at Bologna for just £3m.  It’ll be interesting to see whether Gilmour ends up being any good at Brighton, too. Looks like a good place for him to develop.


Across the whole market, I’m jealous of Leeds for getting Aaronson (who has that Donovan-esque mix of drive and ability), Leverkusen for Hlozek and Milan for getting DeKetelaere (both such classy young players) but while the fees for each were less than we paid for Onana, they weren’t really the players we needed so urgently. Also, very difficult to compete with the glamour of Milan (and a resurgent Milan at that).

Looking ahead

Being a cautiously optimistic type, I am also pleased with preparations for the future with the loans of Branthwaite, Simms, Onyango, Warrington and Dobbin who should all be playing regularly at a higher standard of football than they are used to.  Strong performances on loan could see them very much part of the first-team squad reckoning for the 2023-24 season.  This looks like good work by Thelwell or whoever else is responsible.

Getting rid

As the window has progressed, I can’t help but feel Richarlison went for a pretty low fee – but the timing suggests we had to do the deal to fend off FFP trouble (and maybe legal proceedings from Burnley).  So I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt on that.

It’s also fair to say that the management team were at least decisive about Dele Alli and presumably have protected us against paying good money after bad for someone who can’t really be arsed anymore.  Gomes is another good departure. A relief, in fact.

What we kept

As much as new players, we have probably also done a good job of retaining Calvert-Lewin, Gordon and Mina – all of whom are still probably the best we’ve got in their positions.  Obviously, it went right to the wire with Gordon.  Hopefully he can now show what he’s made of, which we should be optimistic about. 

Sadly, it means that Mina will leave for free in June 2023 but such is life. In the meantime, he’ll be an important part of the defence when fit (to be replaced with Branthwaite perhaps when he returns from PSV in summer).  Calvert-Lewin is really good and doesn’t get enough credit, but the main thing in coming windows is to find that genuine Champions League quality forward who can take us up a notch.  They are out there.

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Reader Comments (10)

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Peter Mills
1 Posted 02/09/2022 at 22:24:11
Pretty fair comments, Robert. I think we’ve come out of the window with a squad that is more solid, more aggressive.

As my my (great Evertonian) Dad would say, “foundations are rarely pretty”.

Paul Birmingham
2 Posted 02/09/2022 at 22:37:15
A fair appraisal Robert, and hopefully the start of a new era in terms of building a solid structure for this Everton squad.

Ideally at least another striker in the next transfer windows, As cover for Maupay and DCL.

Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 02/09/2022 at 22:47:36
Detailed analysis as always Robert. I'll upgrade your 7 to an 8/10 though. I thought that was a very good window with a well thought out strategy on what was needed to restructure the squad.
Tony Everan
4 Posted 02/09/2022 at 00:05:10
Excellent summary Robert, agree with most of that.

I’m 8/10 , I think Kevin Thelwell has done ok. We have to factor into this that he was hamstrung by available finance due to the P&S rules. I get the impression that Frank wanted Joao Pedro but it just wasn’t possible with our finances. We tried a loan to buy but it was predictably unacceptable.

All great teams have solid foundations and we’ve gone a long way to addressing that. The players bought are more robust, as Frank wanted, and to me look mentally strong too.

The failure to find adequate back up for DCL is the omission. We had a loan slot unfilled, there must have been options around Europe to fill it. Simms would have done a job as back up, he has a goal in him, more mobile than Rondon (no shit!), and I thought he stepped up and done pretty well last season away at Chelsea.

Maybe they are confident about DCLs rehabilitation, maybe they are happy that Maupay can change things up. Maybe they are thinking there is a 5-6 week break for the World Cup and Jan 1st we will get someone in and we will be ok for now, they’ve rolled the dice here.

Overall I am very happy with it, pleased Gana’s back.

The best of all is that we are getting the blend right, quality experience where it matters, then introducing quality young players. In this respect it looks like they’ve got some diamonds in.

Gordon, Patterson, Garner, Onana all 2001 vintage boys, born a few months apart. I think they are all going to be top players, players I am excited to watch. To be joined in the first team by Branthwaite and possibly Warrington , Dobbin in a year or two, Stan Mills too .

Garner we’ve not seen yet but I think he’s going to be a favourite here. I’ve been following him for a while, due to Father in-law Forest fan Ive been watching their games and hoped we’d sign him, a good deal negotiated I think.

This window Frank and Kevin have put us firmly on the right path and that gives me confidence for the future. It’s not going to be plain sailing, but if we dig in when things don’t go our way, we will get stronger over time.

Si Cooper
5 Posted 02/09/2022 at 00:09:03
Impressive research. Really don’t know where people find the time to suss out all these players across multiple leagues. I’m not convinced, however, that watching how they do at their new clubs in different leagues is a really accurate way of judging how they might have gone if we’d picked them up.
I think I’m primarily interested in how Sasa Kalajdzic gets on at Wolves as he has been mentioned on TW and I’d see them as similar level / style to us so his performance should be relatable.
I’ve been desperate for a much more resilient and mobile midfield group for ages so I am much more bothered with the rebuilding done there than I am with not getting in more / patently better attacking players.
A lot is currently guesswork (I include Gana in that because I don’t think you can just extrapolate from his previous spell with us) with how the current group will complement each other but I am very hopeful we have enough viable permutations.
If the defence is strong and the midfield able to thrive then I think the wingers and strikers should get more and better chances to score.
Don Alexander
6 Posted 03/09/2022 at 01:17:26
Who knows how the signings will do?

In the window we disposed of 23 players though (and I've no idea what the cost to us was) and to me that's a massive achievement by the Frank/Kevin partnership.

We still have deadwood, but it's now a coppice rather than the Kenwright-planted forest of recent seasons.

Derek Knox
7 Posted 03/09/2022 at 11:43:27
Thanks Robert, even though some of the players we 'may have missed out on' (?) I had never heard of. I think, without sounding too greedy, we did okay, but I would have liked another striker and attacker too. Think Kudus wanted to come, and he will either prove to be a missed chance, and in future windows beyond our reach and price, or, another Dutch flop !

I see Broja has just signed a new 6 year deal with Chelsea, now whether that proves to be a bullet dodged, remains to be seen. I can't see him getting too many starts with Chelski, but maybe is protection by Chelsea against future bids in the next windows, so any Club has to pay X amount because of the length of his contract ?

Just a little reminder as my post hasn't appeared after 3 days and a reminder to the Eds. TW Get Together Bramley Moore Pub 14.00 18th September (WHU Game at GP) should be a good one as we have John Hall over from the Philippines and would like to meet as many Blues as possible.

Tony Graham
8 Posted 03/09/2022 at 16:54:30
Strikers a must in next window, we need GOALS.
David Price
9 Posted 05/09/2022 at 06:59:29
I think all those calling for a new striker are doing Maupay a disservice apart from his miss I thought he played very well in a team he's had days to get to know.

Calvert-Lewin is injury prone and doesn't cut the mustard for me! Bound to upset a few I know but he is so unreliable.

Mike Corcoran
10 Posted 06/09/2022 at 08:15:01
Since the new year we now have 8 new outfield players nailed on for the starting 11 with only Gordon, Gray and Iwobi starting from the Benitez mess. Long term issues right across the defence and midfield have been sorted. That is is some turnaround from a club in dire FFP trouble. Shame we couldn’t get one more good striker in, just hope DCL returns and brings the Ancelotti form. The key piece to me is Gana, I think he will imbue class in the rest of the team. Does anyone think the speculation about Gordon has actually made him realise what a good player he is and can become, his game seems much more aware and aggressive now?

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