Possibly the most inevitable transfer of the summer was concluded last week, that of John Stones from Everton to Manchester City.
Ever since Chelsea’s failed attempt to prise the promising defender away from Goodison last year and the preceding fall out, many thought it was only a matter of time before Stones was granted his wish to play for an elite team chasing honours at home and abroad.
There was always that tiny glimpse of hope for the Gwladys Street faithful that their new billionaire shareholder could speed up their own development and present the England ace with the ambition and platform many felt his talent deserved.
Yet, once the oil-rich sheikhs of City and their almost unlimited wealth come calling and the attraction of working with one of the most iconic coaches in world football that of Pep Guardiola, there was the only likely outcome.
However, there was very little of the usual protestations from the majority of Everton fans. Maybe they have begrudgingly become accustomed to their lot, having their big stars raided each time the summer transfer window opens. But perhaps there are more encouraging motives behind their lack of ill-will.
Of course there is the mammoth fee of almost £50 million, that the toffees have received from Man City. A figure which seems overblown for a player who is far from the finished article.
A sum of money which has already began to bear fruit, with the shrewd £12 million purchase of Swansea captain and defensive stalwart, Ashley Williams. A capture which many view as a major coup, and one which could go a long way to shore up a back line which conceded a shocking 55 goals last season, numbers which were only bettered by the bottom six teams in the top flight.
Followed by the acquistion of the rapid winger Yannick Bolaise from Crystal Palace, to add a further attacking dimension to a front line so often reliant on Belguim hitman Romelu Lukaku.
And with the promise of more significant player investment in the last weeks of the transfer window, Everton may well find themselves in a much healthier position than many expected.
But maybe the biggest reason for a lack of the usual mourning on the blue half of Merseyside, is that of another young defender Everton purchased from Barnsley: Mason Holgate.
Ronald Koeman arrived at Everton and assessed the young talent at the club, then he drafted the Doncaster-born youngster into his pre season squad. The impression he made was so good that soon after that he was handed his own squad number for the upcoming Premier League season. That just highlights the faith placed in him by the Dutch manager after barely a month in the Goodison Park hot seat.
A clutch of defensive injuries at the club and the departure of Stones, meant Holgate was thrown in for his full Premier League debut against Spurs, at the tender age of 19 years of age. Not only did the young defender handle the presssure of performing in front of a packed Goodison Park against one of the form teams of last season, but he thrived. His performance was reminiscent of another Yorkshireman who had plied his trade at Everton not so long ago.
Tall and elegant, composed on the ball, and confident in stepping out of defence to start attacks from the back, maybe it’s something they put in the water at Barnsley. But one thing is for sure, this young ball-playing centre back from across the Pennines may be another one destined for the very top. And Everton fans will hope they can hold onto this young star just that little bit longer than the last.
This article was submitted via our Write For Us feature. Think you can do better? Submit your own article via the link below, and give yourself the chance of winning monthly cash prizes…