Everton manager Sam Allardyce confirmed in his pre-match press conference on Thursday that a £27m deal to bring Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun to Goodison Park is edging closer, and while the signing of the centre-forward may well have been needed, it shouldn’t necessarily have been the main priority.
While the Merseyside outfit and former England boss would have been determined to finally bring in a direct replacement for Romelu Lukaku having failed to do so during the summer, it perhaps shouldn’t have been the first issue they dealt with this month.
The signing of Sandro Ramirez may not have paid off, but Oumar Niasse and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have done well in the lone role up top so far this season and the Toffees’ tally of 25 Premier League goals is higher than 11 of their top flight rivals.
Meanwhile, even though their defensive record has improved since Allardyce took charge at the end of November, Everton have still let in 34 goals in their 22 Premier League matches, with only Watford, Huddersfield Town, West Ham and Stoke City having poorer records when it comes to conceding.
Former Toffees boss Ronald Koeman brought Cuco Martina and Michael Keane in during the summer to provide some depth and competition for places at the back, but in a window that was dominated by the arrival of a number of attacking midfielders for large fees, they perhaps didn’t target the area that needed the most attention.
The absence of Leighton Baines through injury has seen Martina fill in at left-back in recent weeks – which is far from ideal considering he is primarily a right-sided player – while Keane, Ashley Williams, and Phil Jagielka have all struggled for form at the heart of the defence at different stages of the campaign, with youngster Mason Holgate often getting the nod ahead of his more experienced teammates.
There is no doubt that the left-back and centre-back positions look to be two areas where the Merseyside outfit desperately need to strengthen before the window slams shut at the end of the month.
Keane is yet to replicate the impressive performances he did during his time with Burnley, while Jagielka, Baines and Williams are 35, 33 and 33 years of age respectively and can’t be viewed as long-term first-team regulars – especially if Everton are looking to push on.
Allardyce should be looking at a new centre-back and left-back, or at least one player that is able to feature in both positions if they are looking to salvage a season that started so poorly and secure a top-seven finish.
While those targets may not come on the cheap, there is no real pressure on Everton now and if they can bed two new players in now ready to hit the ground running at the start of next season, it could prove to be a worthwhile move.
The Merseyside club have been linked with a few central defenders – Crystal Palace’s James Tomkins, Sunderland’s Lamine Kone, West Bromwich Albion’s Jonny Evans and Lille’s Adama Soumaoro – already in the past few weeks, with Eagles left-back Patrick van Aanholt another of those rumoured to potentially be on his way to Goodison Park.
Whether any of those players have the quality to make a difference in the long-term for the Toffees remains to be seen, but it should be a priority to bring at least one defender in that will have a major impact before the window slams shut on January 31.