Everton signed Fabian Delph during the summer transfer window, and it was suggested in September by the player himself that director of football Marcel Brands had brought him to Goodison Park to provide some experience and leadership to the younger members of the squad.
That hasn’t exactly gone to plan so far though.
The 30-year-old played the full 90 minutes in four straight Premier League defeats in September and October under Marco Silva, and has also missed 10 top flight matches through injury.
The former Manchester City man was also a second-half substitute in the disastrous 1-0 loss against a severely-weakened Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup earlier this month, and didn’t react in the best way in the aftermath.
The Englishman was spoken to by manager Carlo Ancelotti having been involved in a confrontation with a Toffees fans on social media, which is certainly not what you expect from a player of his knowledge and experience.
In addition, he was brought in to help influence the younger members of the team and keep them calm and presumably able to hold onto leads, but that is something they failed to do in disastrous circumstances during the week as Newcastle scored two injury-time goals at Goodison Park to come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2.
Meanwhile, Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio told Sky Sports News, via Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre (January 23, 9:08pm), that Everton’s primary central midfield target during the January transfer window is Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Despite there being older and more experienced players such as Ryan Bertrand, Shane Long and James Ward-Prowse in the Southampton team, it was the then 23-year-old Dane who Ralph Hasenhuttl quickly named as his captain when he was appointed as Mark Hughes’ successor at St Mary’s in December 2018.
He has stood up to the plate, too.
He skippered the team to Premier League survival last season, and has been a real driving force in the middle of the park in Saints’ revival in recent months.
The Athletic reported earlier this month that he had made more possession recoveries (208) than any other top flight player this term, and by quite a significant number.
Of course, the upturn in form has largely come following the humiliating 9-0 defeat at home to Leicester City at the end of October.
It would have been very easy for Hojbjerg to shirk the responsibility of speaking to the media post-match, but he instead came out and apologised – a much better reaction than Delph’s after the Merseyside derby, one would suggest.
The Denmark international has shown maturity beyond his years in the past 12 months or so especially, and has all of the ingredients to be exactly what the Everton man hasn’t been should he end up signing on at Goodison.