After much back and forth, a UEFA slip-up (not the least bit surprising, really) saw Manchester City finally announce the signing of Everton’s want-away star John Stones, ending this particular saga.
Everton pocketed £47.5 million from the sale as The Citizens look to continue their Guardiola revolution, but where have The Blues reinvested that money, and has the process been a wise one for the Merseysiders? Manchester City may well end up looking a more complete outfit with Stones as a member of their back-line, but in the fullness of time, it may well turn out that Everton are the primary beneficiaries of the saga.
After making little progress in the market so far – bar the signing of central midfielder Idrissa Gueye, one of Saturday’s stand-out performers – Koeman has seen a number of the club’s courting attempts rebuffed. The sale of their young centre-back however, has since been the catalyst of a flurry of activity – or interest at the very least – at the Goodison Park.
Welsh hero Ashley Williams has been drafted in, in the hope of tightening up what was an oftentimes calamitous defence, while Crystal Palace’s one-man highlight reel Yannick Bolasie will look provide some much needed firepower and support behind front man Romelu Lukaku.
Williams failed to make his debut on Everton’s season opener against Spurs at Goodison Park, as he is yet to fully recover from a shoulder injury sustained at the European Championships, however it is not expected to be a long absence for the soon to be 32-year-old.
One would assume Williams slots straight into the defence alongside Jagielka, with Funes Mori and Holgate providing rotation until another centre-back is brought in as competition.
There has been little more progress since Koeman established interest in Sunderland’s Lamine Kone, who has now handed a transfer request in. After being quoted £17 million for the Ivorian who arrived in the North East last season for around a quarter of that, The Blues appear to be looking elsewhere, with Valencia’s Aymen Abdennour now reportedly a target.
After The Eagles lost at home to West Brom on the opening day, showing off the kind of form that saw them plummet towards the foot of the table last season, Palace manager Alan Pardew told the BBC: “We know there is a big offer and a big club in for him. The deal is close and he will go with my best wishes… We know his heart and soul may be elsewhere.” This indeed bore fruit, as the deal itself was announced on Monday afternoon.
It is unclear at the moment where Bolasie fits in to Koeman’s system though. Playing a 5-2-3 variant at the weekend against Spurs saw the triumvirate of Barkley, Mirallas and Delofeu allowed extreme freedom to roam and create in the final third, with the assurances of Gueye and Barry in the middle and more defensive minded wing-backs in Baines and McCarthy.
Reluctant to rely on Kone and Niasse though, it will be up to Belgian Romelu Lukaku to provide the side with goals. Should he indeed stay and manage to resist the temptation of the club that didn’t want him under Mourinho, Lukaku will certainly be back in the side and starting.
It is expected Koeman will revert to back four once Lukaku returns, but even so, this could mean a seat on the pine initially for £25 million-man Bolasie. He does provide the Dutchman with a more explosive, creative option off the bench besides Tom Cleverly and Aaron Lennon, though as well as being serious competition for the starters.
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