While Ronald Koeman’s claim that a failure to sign Olivier Giroud during the summer curtailed his second season as Everton manager always felt like a bitter excuse, the fact he’d had to rely upon a 20-year-old to lead the line during the opening months of the campaign was incredibly telling of the Toffees’ hap-hazard recruitment throughout the last transfer window.
“I had Olivier Giroud in the building. That was hard to swallow. That would have been perfect but he decided he’d rather live in London.
“You tell me where you can get a better striker. Lukaku was important to us, not only because of his goals, but because of his way of playing – strong, quick, direct.
“There was always the option of the long ball to him. Now we missed such a player, we had Nicola Vlasic and Wayne Rooney, players who want the ball in to feet.”
But it’s often said that youngsters will improve if they’re given a sustained chance in the first team and although it’s been more a case of a lack of alternatives than a proactive attempt to bed in a young player, Dominic Calvert-Lewin provides the perfect example. While his performances were inconsistent at the start of the campaign, he’s now one of the first names on Everton’s team sheet – and with good reason.
Last night’s 3-1 win over Swansea provided another ninety minutes telling of how the England U20 has rapidly improved since becoming Everton’s ad hoc spearhead in attack. Despite many not seeing centre-forward as the 20-year-old’s ultimate position, he provided Everton with a vital foothold in the final third against the Swans, something highlighted best by his eight aerial duels won, two fouls won and seven touches in the opposition box.
Calvert-Lewin’s end product still leaves something to be desired but he showed his predatory instincts last night when latching onto the rebound from Wayne Rooney’s penalty – putting his side on level terms in a match they simply had to win to ensure they wouldn’t slump back towards relegation reckoning.
For all the unprecedented fortunes Everton spent on new signings during the summer, it’s actually a youngster from the Football League valued at just £7.2million by Transfermarkt that has become one of their most important and effective players this season. It just goes to show what can happen when youth is given a chance – but do you think Everton still need to sign a superstar striker in January? Let us know by voting below…