4-2-3-1, 100k-p/w star & Man United ace… a formation to make Everton top four battlers

In a summer of new managers and spiralling transfer fees there is a new level of excitement in the Premier League. Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola in Manchester, Arsene Wenger spending money at Arsenal and other sides up and down the division plotting to break their transfer records for new talent, there certainly is plenty going on.

And amid this flurry, developments at Everton have got somewhat lost. Alas, they shouldn’t be overlooked, with Ronald Koeman having been lure to the North West after a stunning two years at Southampton and the investment of Farhad Moshiri in place, which may well give the Toffees their biggest transfer budget in recent memory over the coming months.

Although spending is no guarantee of success, this Everton side needs a few choice additions to compliment the array of talent already present, and we think that a 4-2-3-1 formation with a sprinkling of additions may be enough to revive their top four ambitions.

So what could Koeman’s XI look like with some smart shopping? Read on to see…

Goalie/defence – Diego Alves, Seamus Coleman, John Stones, Ramiro Funes Mori & Leighton Baines

Everton defence

As you can see, there’s not a lot of change in the proposed Everton rearguard. The only enforced switch is in goal, with veteran Tim Howard now back in America with the Columbus Crew, and it’s clear, from the number of reports out there anyway, that the Toffees are after a new stopper. Maarten Stekelenburg has been snapped up from Fulham, but with the 33-year-old having endured two fruitless loan spells at Monaco and Southampton, a role as a first choice in the Premier League appears unlikely. There remain doubts about Joel Robles’ abilities too, so reports linking the club with Valencia’s Diego Lopez are all the more interesting. The Brazilian is an agile stopper with a good reputation and could be lured away from Los Che, who endured a woeful 2015/16 campaign.

Elsewhere at the back, we think that, despite the numerous reports, Stones could well stay put, with Koeman the ideal manager to iron out some of the flaws in his game. Funes Mori was relatively impressive in his debut season at Goodison Park, while Coleman’s attacking verve could be rejuvenated by a new manager. Baines gets the nod at left-back now he’s fit again, even though his physical powers are waning.

Holding midfield – Axel Witsel & James McCarthy

Everton midfield 1

Koeman’s Southampton often operated with two deep-lying midfielders, so it would be no surprise to see the Dutchman transition this to Everton. Despite the limitations in his game in terms of passing, McCarthy, we feel, deserves to keep his place, with the Irishman full of energy, making him a better option than Gareth Barry or Muhamed Besic.

Alas, he will most likely be joined in the engine room by a new addition, with Belgian ace Witsel a name being linked with the club. Reports suggest that the Toffees are willing to pay Zenit Saint Petersburg £30m and hand the imposing central midfielder a contract worth over £100,000-per-week, and it’ll be interesting to see how this one progresses now Belgium’s EURO 2016 is over.

Attacking midfield – Andriy Yarmolenko, Juan Mata & Ross Barkley

Everton midfield 2

Now for the exciting stuff. The attacking midfield area of the pitch may be the zone that sees the most change, with speculation surrounding additions plentiful. Freshening up is certainly needed, and we’ll get the big one out of the way first in Mata. The Spaniard is reportedly a £20m target, and with Jose Mourinho in at Manchester United, it would be no shock to see the silky ex-Valencia man moved on. He lacks the defensive wherewithal to operate in a ‘Mou’ team, but his eye for a pass and ability to support the forward line could make him Koeman’s answer to Dusan Tadic at Southampton, albeit with more technical ability.

Next in is Yarmolenko. The Ukrainian has been linked with Everton on a consistent basis for much of the last 12 – 18 months, and it’s easy to see why they want him. The attacking midfielder has netted 27 goals in league action over the course of the past two seasons, firing Dynamo Kiev to back-to-back titles. He is, however, expected to move on sooner rather than later, and at 26, he’s in his prime.

Ross Barkley completes this exciting trio, who will be able to drift across a narrow line. The England international’s career has paused a little in recent times, but a manager of Koeman’s ilk could unlock his undoubted potential.

Up front – Romelu Lukaku or Graziano Pelle

Everton strikers

Much depends on Lukaku’s future in terms of a player to lead the line. The Belgian has openly flirted with a move away from Everton, but a vast valuation (anywhere from £50m to £75m) could scupper his wishes.

There’s no sense keeping an unhappy player, but the Toffees’ ambition in the transfer market could sway him towards giving it one last season on Merseyside, and a forward of his stature will be the ideal focal point for Koeman.

However, if he were to leave a reported move for Pelle makes sense, with the burley Italian having played under the now Everton boss both at Southampton and Feyenoord.