Marcel Brands must seal a summer swoop for rumoured Everton target Adrien Rabiot of Juventus after Kevin Campbell identified a major flaw with Carlo Ancelotti’s current squad.
Campbell has claimed that competition for places is the main factor standing between the Toffees and qualifying for Europe, after seeing Ancelotti being forced to name several academy players on the bench against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Ancelotti was without Andre Gomes (hamstring), Allan (knock), Abdoulaye Doucoure (foot), Fabian Delph (tendon) and Jean-Philippe Gbamin (knee) at the Amex Stadium, leaving Tom Davies as his only natural central midfield option.
Among those named on the bench against Brighton included goalkeeper Harry Tyrer, Kyle John, Reece Welch and Isaac Price, all of whom are yet to make their senior debuts, and the latter two’s inclusions were their first in a senior squad.
Campbell believes that Ancelotti’s thin squad has played a key role in Everton’s hopes of qualifying for Europe subsiding, after Monday’s goalless draw left the Goodison Park natives eighth in the table and six points down on the guaranteed UEFA places.
“I think Tom Davies has done pretty well most of the time, but Everton just don’t have the squad,” the 51-year-old told Sky Sports, via quotes shared by the Daily Mail. “They need to fatten that squad up, so you can play like for like, make different changes, because if you’re looking to step up, you’ve got to rotate your squad.”
Doucoure had started 25 of 26 available Premier League games following a £20m summer switch from Watford before fracturing his foot, while Allan opened 15 of 16 available top-flight fixtures either side of a lengthy hamstring injury.
Allan has so far only failed to see the final whistle on one occasion when he has started a league game for Everton, while only Michael Keane (2,450), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (2,246) and Richarlison (2,171) have played more minutes for Everton than Doucoure (2,137).
Gbamin’s return from 19 months of injury hell with quadricep and Achilles problems would have provided Ancelotti with some welcome support in the engine room, but the Toffees are now set to be without the Ivorian for the remainder of the season due to his knee injury.
The midfielder’s latest issue, sustained in a training ground collision with Lucas Digne, may instead see Everton target other options in the summer market, following reports by The Athletic claiming that Brands’ work could hinge on Gbamin staying fit and finally proving his worth.
Everton have been linked with a move for Rabiot since Ancelotti’s arrival at Goodison Park, and France Football [via Sport Witness] claimed earlier in the year that the Italian was urging club figures to sign the Juventus midfielder, who Andrea Pirlo believes is a “complete player”.
It could take as much as €30m (£26m) to sign Rabiot, although Tuttosport noted last month that Juventus are willing to listen to offers for the Toffees target, for whom Ancelotti has never lost his fondness.
Ancelotti gave Rabiot his debut for Paris Saint-Germain aged 17, and ESPN have claimed that he considers the £187,000-per-week maestro to be an upgrade on Gomes as the Frenchman is a great box-to-box option who has talents which may suit the Premier League.
With Campbell now questioning the depth of Ancelotti’s squad and seemingly urging his former club to spend in the summer, Brands should be doing all he can to see that Rabiot is an Everton player next season.
AND in other news, Everton have been tipped to sign a £25m star once dubbed “a freak of a talent”…