Everton are closing in on two replacements for Ross Barkley as the England international moves towards the exit. The Mirror report that the Toffees are increasingly confident of signing both Davy Klaassen and Gylfi Sigurdsson. The discussions over the former are at a more advanced stage, with the Dutchman agreeing to a move in principle. Ajax want £26 million for the 24-year-old midfielder and Everton are close to that after an initial bid of £22 million.
The deal for Sigurdsson will be more complex, as Swansea are holding out for an eye-watering £35 million. The Icelandic international has three years left on his contract in South Wales and there is no pressure for the club to sell him. They will be hoping that the potential sale of Barkley will fund this move.
What would the pair bring to Goodison Park?
To start with, they are both capable of producing in the final third with goals and assists. During the recent league campaign, Klaassen contributed 13 goals and nine assists, with the Dutchman being involved in a goal every 125.3 minutes. Although that did come in the Eredivisie, which has a chequered past of producing players that can replicate their form in the Premier League.
The Dutch international is best suited to a box-to-box midfield role, but he can also thrive as a number ten. He was crucial to the Ajax team that reached the final of the Europa League, averaging 1.86 chances created, 1.83 shots and 2.32 ball recoveries per ninety minutes. Klaassen was clinical in the final third with a conversion rate of 23.2% and Everton will be hoping that he can reproduce the same rate in England.
Sigurdsson is a less risky target for Everton as he has already proved that he can produce good numbers in the Premier League. During the 2016/17 campaign, he contributed nine goals and 13 assists, seeing him involved in a goal once every 151.2 minutes.
This is extremely impressive for a player in a side battling with relegation. The only doubt regarding the 27-year-old is that he is currently playing in a team built around him and he may struggle to be as influential in a better side. He struggled at Tottenham and he would have to prove himself if he does move to Goodison Park.
As opposed to Klaassen, the Swansea man is a more natural number ten, who averaged 1.95 chances created, 3.11 shots and 1.75 ball recoveries per ninety minutes. From this comparison, it is clear that Sigurdsson played in a system that allowed him to attempt more shots at goal, but Klaassen managed to score more goals. Some will argue that this was due to the weaker league he was playing in, but the Ajax captain hasn’t had a chance to prove himself on a more accomplished stage.
The duo would be brought in to replace Barkley at Goodison Park, and the stats suggest that they may not be the significant upgrade that many are suggesting. The main difference is that they are more clinical than the England international, who contributed five goals and eight assists last season. His goal involvement was one every 223.2 minutes, which is by far the lowest of the three players being discussed.
However, his influence in the final third is shown by his average of 2.54 chances created and 2.79 shots per ninety minutes. He was the most creative of the three during the campaign just gone and that certainly aided Romelu Lukaku, who was given great service throughout 2016/17. The assist stat is misleading and this gives a better reflection of a player’s creativity.
Would this double deal improve Everton?
Klaassen ad Sigurdsson are both good players, but neither are a clear improvement on Barkley. Last season, the England international made a huge step forward in his development and he is likely to improve a lot during the coming seasons.
The problem with Klaassen is that he has thrived at Ajax, due to his defined role in the system. He wouldn’t be given the same luxury at Goodison Park, while the transition between the Eredivisie and the Premier League isn’t a certainty, as we have witnessed recently with Memphis Depay and Vincent Janssen.
Meanwhile, Sigurdsson has had the Swansea team built around him and that has aided him in his productivity, as he is given the opportunities to impact a game. There is no doubting his ability and he would certainly be a good addition for Everton, but he might not be able to replicate the numbers that he has produced in South Wales.
Everton now have money and they are trying to make an impression in the transfer market to compete with the top six. These two would be good signings and between them, they would offer an improvement on Ross Barkley, but they will create a new problem for Ronald Koeman, as it would be difficult to fit both into the team’s current system.
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