Since Romelu Lukaku exited Goodison Park in the summer of 2017, taking with him an impressive strike-rate, Everton have brought in five forwards plus Wayne Rooney. Those forwards collectively have bagged 34 Premier League goals across the last two seasons; just eight more than the Belgian managed single-handedly in his final year on Merseyside.
That is not to suggest that too much criticism is due to the five new recruits and indeed a case can be made for most, particularly in the instance of Richarlison who has largely been terrific for the Blues this term under Marco Silva. The former Watford star is not an out-and-out goal-scorer nor is he someone expected to lead the line rather an explosion of creativity across the final third.
Even so, the fact remains that the Toffees have greatly missed Lukaku, or rather his goals. That’s what it boils down to. They are yet to come anywhere close to replacing him, a problem that has plagued Ronald Koeman, David Unsworth, Sam Allardyce and now Silva.
Enter Dominic Calvert-Lewin though of course the 22-year-old has already been on the scene for some time, having been snapped up as an emerging young talent from Sheffield United in 2016. A period of development followed during which Calvert-Lewin saw his reputation soar by helping England’s U20s win the World Cup and he has since won the Three Lions’ U21 Player of the Year award in 2018. At Everton meanwhile he has quietly, progressively established himself as a first team regular making 36 starts and 30 cameos from the bench in the last two campaigns.
His rise to prominence has accelerated of late with a series of impactful displays none more so than at West Ham at the tail-end of March when Calvert-Lewin was widely praised for putting in a complete centre-forward’s performance. There he harried the Hammers back-line remorselessly and was influential in both of his side’s goals.
Later Glenn Hoddle stated in his punditry role for BT Sport that Everton might have finally found their missing link up front: “They don’t need to go out and buy a foreign player. He’s getting better and better. If he can add to his goal tally, he can hold the ball up for them, don’t go out and buy a foreign player”.
Ex-Everton manager Allardyce also believes his former charge could prove key in helping his team take the next step and challenge for a top six spot saying recently via talkSPORT:
“Calvert-Lewin has improved immensely this season and next season he might even improve yet again. I think he’s a quality player, but he’s still a little short on his goal tally to command that centre forward position on a regular basis”.
As for the player himself confidence is clearly sky high, as demonstrated in his recent assertion that he could soon be competing on the same plateau as Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane.
You may notice however that both Hoddle and Allardyce’s words contain a similar caveat and that is the young hit-man’s lack of hits. Calvert-Lewin may well be excellent at holding up play and putting in the yards but 17 goals in 92 appearances is hardly prolific. This season he has scored once every 281 minutes – that will be a concern for Silva, who has been charged with making Everton truly competitive against the Premier League’s sextet elite.
A significant increase in sharpness – and selfishness – in front of goal is needed if the Yorkshireman wishes to become the long-term successor to Graeme Sharp, Rooney and Lukaku in Everton’s striking half of fame. If not then the search will continue for the 20-goal-a-season man Everton so desperately crave and Silva so desperately needs.