Starting off with a deal that’s expected to be finalised within the next few days – Everton’s loan swoop for former Anzhi star Lacina Traore.
The 6 foot 8 forward, nicknamed the ‘Gentle Giant’, will already be a fan favourite at Goodison, having netted a sensational strike against Liverpool in last year’s Europa League tournament.
The 23 year-old claimed 18 goals in his inaugural campaign with Dagestani, including six on the continental stage, but this season found himself on the fringes of the squad, making just seven appearances in all competitions.
His presence is continuing to grow on the international scene, having claimed four goals and seven caps for Cote d’Ivoire, and he’s expected to feature heavily at the 2014 World Cup.
Traore’s height can be deceptive – despite his lofty frame, the African star’s strength isn’t in the air, so Everton fans shouldn’t expect a similar kind of service to Romelu Lukaku.
Rather, the former Cluj and Kuban Krasnodar forward is known for his direct running, powerful finishing from distance and deft touches in the final third. A loose comparison would be a more athletic Peter Crouch.
French big-spenders Monaco snapped up the towering striker earlier this January in a €12million deal, but they’re prepared to farm him out for the rest of the campaign to gain experience in a leading European top flight.
A recent injury to £54million summer signing Radamel Falcao could change all that however, and it’s been widely speculated that the Ligue 1 title-hunters could pull the plug on Traore’s temporary Merseyside switch.