The past few seasons have been pretty enjoyable for Everton fans. From the constant ‘safety first’ days of David Moyes, the shackles have been somewhat cast off both on and off the pitch at Goodison Park, with attractive football and exciting signings now commonplace on the blue half of Merseyside under Roberto Martinez.
2014/15 was a bit underwhelming as the reality of Europa League football hit home, but the previous campaign showed that with a little luck the top four is not too far away.
Keeping John Stones over the summer had fuelled optimism among Toffees fans, and with a few choice additions in January there’s no reason that Everton cannot be in the mix to steal fourth spot with Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs having failed to convince so far.
With that in mind, here are FIVE rumours that could come true in January…
With Martinez’s influence at Everton as strong as ever, the Toffees have secured the signatures of players that may have been somewhat out of their reach in years gone by in more recent times.
Gerard Deulofeu’s signing – first on loan them permanently over the summer – is a shining example of the calibre of player the Spaniard can attract with his style of football, and now reports have claimed that another Barcelona prodigy in the shape of El Haddadi is wanted.
The 20-year-old is understood to be ready to move on for first-team chances after growing tired of working in the shadows of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, and the way Deulofeu has kicked on at Goodison Park could encourage the young attacker to pursue his future on Merseyside.
With 15 goals conceded, Everton’s defence is a minor problem. Tim Howard’s influence behind the backline certainly hasn’t helped of late, but Martinez could, arguably, do with another centre-back to ease the burden on John Stones.
The weekend win against Sunderland saw him coupled with Rodrigo Funes Mori, but injuries meant there was no back-up option on the bench, which could be an issue going forward this season.
Ranocchia is a target and has fallen out of favour at Inter Milan, so the Italian presents a quick-fix. At 6ft. 5”, he offers physicality, but his lack of pace may be an issue, while, traditionally, players moving from Serie A to the Premier League have struggled.
Another mooted target to add depth at the back is Burnley’s Keane. The 22-year-old only joined the Clarets on a permanent basis earlier this year after a loan stint at Turf Moor, but the ex-Manchester United man would surely be tempted by the reports £4m interest from Merseyside.
His 14 Championship appearances, and three goals, have helped Burnley into the play-off spots, but a January offer may prove too good to refuse.
Not really a ‘headline-grabber’ of a signing, but Elmohamady, who is understood to be free to leave Hull in January, offers know-how and would add depth at right-back.
The Egyptian was one of Hull’s key players both before and through their relegation slip, and his stock remains high as a result. In a progressive Martinez team his presence at right-back on the same flank in a more advanced position makes sense, with his pace and strength key attributes.
A giant of a centre-back, the Dane is thought to be available in January with Werder Bremen’s financial situation set to force sales. Standing at almost 6ft. 7”, the 23-year-old certainly has the stature to compliment Stones’ technique, which may appeal to Martinez as he looks to curt the amount of goals going in at the wrong end at Goodison Park.
With four caps at senior international level Vestergaard has experience, and his status as one of the Bundesliga’s best centre-backs last season hints that he could be a success in the Premier League.