Everton were linked with a number of players in January, and despite making five signings to freshen up the squad, they are still struggling to make a positive impact in their Premier League campaign.
Indeed, they find themselves in a more vulnerable position than ever before after their 5-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night.
As per Sky Sports, after 25 league games, Everton has shipped the most defeats ever in a season up to this point, conceded the most goals in a season so far and have tallied the fewest points in a campaign in their entire existence (based on three-point wins).
It’s safe to say that Everton are in trouble. With 13 games to go, eight of those are against teams in the top half of the table, including Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea to name a few.
If Monday’s thrashing at Tottenham was anything to go by, the problems lie heavily at the back, with every Toffees defender struggling to impose themselves on proceedings and equally struggling to defend their goal from the moment the game started, with Michael Keane scoring his second own goal in less than two months to open the floodgates within the first 15 minutes.
These lapses of concentration and constant poor performances from the Everton defence could ultimately be what costs them their status in the Premier League at the end of the season, but even if they are to stay up, Lampard must consider replacing the entire back four as soon as he possibly can.
Everton were previously linked with Stefan de Vrij from Inter Milan, who would definitely be an ideal replacement and a huge upgrade on the likes of Keane and Holgate, and he is reportedly interested in leaving Serie A this summer.
The £40.5m-rated defender, who was dubbed a “monster” by his former Lazio team-mate Mauricio, has a number of Premier League clubs chasing him, with both Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur willing to compete with Everton to secure the Dutchman’s signature.
In fact, Antonio Conte may have the upper hand to get the deal done, as he has worked with the 30-year-old before and even claimed that De Vrij was “like Bonucci” when he was managing Inter Milan back in 2019. Indeed, it is no wonder that the player is in such high demand when you look at his defensive statistics this season.
According to SofaScore, De Vrij wins the majority of both his aerial and ground duels, has a 92% pass completion rate, only loses the ball 4.8 times per match whilst having 62.5 touches on average per Serie A game, also making at least one tackle and interception per match.
Contrast that with Keane and Mason Holgate, Everton’s two most regular centre-backs this season, and you see how much of an upgrade he would be. Keane’s passing success rate is 77% and he loses the ball 9.5 times per match, while Holgate loses more ground duels than he wins and has a pass competion rate of just 69%.
If Everton are to stay in the Premier League for next season, Lampard will have the opportunity to take advantage of an entire transfer window to identify the right players for his team to ensure that Everton avoid a repeat of their current relegation scrap, and signing a defender on De Vrij’s level should be the number one priority.