With James Rodriguez set to miss the Copa America this summer, Everton should be growing concerned over his fitness.
The Colombian was absent for the final two matches of the season with fatigue and then a calf problem, but the situation hasn’t improved and it looks as though he could be set for an extended period of time out.
If the 29-year-old struggles for fitness when the new season gets underway in August, it will be a huge blow to the Toffees’ chances of qualifying for Europe. The attacking midfielder was Everton’s second-best creator in 2020/21 in terms of assists, registering nine in all competitions.
Only Gylfi Sigurdsson recorded more assists than Rodriguez but the Iceland international has been enigmatic at times this season. His missed penalty on the final day against Manchester City just about summed up his inconsistent campaign.
With those two problems in mind, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Everton decide to invest in a creative and goalscoring midfielder this summer.
Ross Barkley has been tipped to go back to Goodison Park, but another option lies in Lazio’s Joaquin Correa.
According to La Repubblica (via Sport Witness), Everton are at the front of the queue to sign the Argentine this summer. The report doesn’t state the fee which may be needed but Transfermarkt value the 26-year-old at a lofty £27m.
Despite the price, Carlo Ancelotti and co would be wise to lure him to Merseyside in the coming months. Correa is a wonderful attacking talent who has racked up 30 goals during his time with Lazio.
Eleven of those came this season as the vibrant ‘second striker’ also registered six assists across all competitions. His form has earned praise from some of the best to play the game, with Juan Sebastian Veron suggesting that he was “crushing it” in Italy.
It’s easy to see why that assessment was made. Playing just behind the striker, Correa is a magician in possession of the ball. He possesses the ability to make things happen on a relentless basis, something which should be music to the ears of somebody like Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Correa has the qualities to beat his opponents on a regular basis, an attribute which may benefit Ancelotti’s top-scoring number nine in terms of touches inside the area.
The way in which he opens up spaces and drags defenders towards him could prove incredibly fruitful for Calvert-Lewin. The Toffees marksman netted 21 goals this term but, with fewer players picking him up because Correa has the ball, he would likely enjoy even more opportunities in front of goal.
An article on Breaking the Lines epitomises everything which is great about the Argentine’s game. The piece read: “Correa’s wide repertoire of skills and his tricky dribbling makes him a menace for opposing defenders. His quick movement and awareness allow him to move into spaces or drop deep to enable his teammates to move forward.”
At a price potentially around the £27m mark, it would be yet another expensive acquisition for an attacking midfielder. However, with Correa in the prime of his career and improving all the time, it would appear to be a solid purchase from Everton if they pull it off.