When Everton’s official website confirmed the signing of Wayne Rooney on a free transfer, one of football’s worst-kept secrets was finally concluded.
The talismanic forward, who was clearly on borrowed time after a frustrating season at Old Trafford, never seemed particularly motivated by the financial rewards that lay farther afield in China or the United States. Instead, he bore the demeanour of a man who wanted to return home, and his arrival on Merseyside has certainly coincided with one of the most exciting periods in Everton’s recent history.
The signing of Rooney certainly provides Everton with some tactical flexibility, with the player having being deployed in a number of positions during his illustrious career. Here, we take a look at some of the ways in which Everton may line up with the former Manchester United forward in the fold…
Three at the Back and Two Up Front
Ronald Koeman experimented briefly with playing a three-man central defence last season, as this system became popular once again in the Premier League.
The Dutchman also reverted to this system during the narrow, 1-0 win against MFK Ruzomberok in the second leg of Everton’s Europa League qualifying round, with Rooney operating as one of two strikers alongside Sandro Ramirez.
While this is a relatively unfamiliar position for Rooney, it provides him with some freedom as he can work in tandem with a quicker, more orthodox number nine. This system also creates an option for the forward to operate in a deeper role behind the two strikers, a position from which he could fully utilise his vision and varied passing range.
Rooney Leading the Line
Another option would be for Koeman to leverage Rooney’s experience by deploying hims as a sole striker. This would allow Everton to play with three in midfield, with Davy Klaassen roving from deep and the young Dominic Calvert-Lewin offering pace and width in the wider areas.
Rooney certainly has the knowledge and strength to lead the line, while his intelligent movement and enduring eye for goal could make him a potent weapon at the front line of Everton’s attack.
The only concern would be an obvious lack of pace, however, with Rooney lacking the thrust and acceleration of his youth. This would be particularly problematic away from home, when Everton may be required to play on the break and release pressure by playing balls in behind the opposition’s defence.
Rooney as the Number 10
This may be the more natural fit for Rooney, whose blend of vision and finishing seem ideally suited to the number 10 role.
With Everton adopting a solid 4-2-3-1 system, Rooney would serve as the intrinsic link between midfield and attack, with the quick and energetic Ramirez operating in front of him. Ramirez’ pace could definitely create room for Rooney to operate in, particularly with pacey and creative players like Kevin Mirallas on the flanks.
While Rooney certainly faces competition in this role in the form of Klaassen, this would arguably represent the safest bet for Koeman as he looks to build a balanced and winning side.
Everton must secure Frank Fabra signing before World Cup
The Colombian is set to star at the World Cup with his nation.
Everton are currently being linked with a move for Colombian left-back Frank Fabra. According to Argentine radio station El Crack Deportivo, the 27-year-old is being considered as the left-back option Everton need.
Everton have been lacking in the department this season. With Leighton Baines suffering injury trouble throughout the campaign, natural right-back Cuco Martina has done his best in the role. Everton thoroughly need a new left-back and Fabra is an impressive option.
The Boca Juniors defender was linked with Manchester United and Chelsea by Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio in 2016. A powerful full-back, he has all it takes to be a star in European football.
Everton are, therefore right, to be targeting the Boca star. However, the Toffees must try to wrap up any potential deal before the World Cup in Russia this summer.
Fabra is looking increasingly likely to be Colombia’s first-choice at the competition. Pablo Armero has had his day and Fabra is the popular choice to play the role of left-back or left wing-back.
Colombia, who are in Group H with Japan, Poland and Senegal, have high hopes of going far in the competition. Four years ago they suffered a narrow quarter-final exit at the hands of Brazil.
Fabra will no doubt be key to any success that Colombia have in the competition and therefore will catch the eye.
Everton will be fully aware what a top World Cup performance can do to a player’s value. If the Toffees want to bring in Fabra doing so before the Russia World Cup could end up being a worthwhile cost-cutting exercise.
Regardless, Everton fans will just be pleased to hear that the club are starting to identify potential options to strengthen one of their weakest positions on the field, even if it is not a household name.
Ronald Koeman admits he wanted Memphis Depay at Everton
But would Everton have benefited from his arrival?
Ronald Koeman is about to kickstart his managerial career with the Dutch national team. It is his first role since getting sacked by Everton and his first foray into international management. Speaking about his new role he discussed the former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay.
Speaking to the press, as reported by Football Oranje, Koeman revealed that he had tried to convince Depay to join Everton whilst he was manager at Goodison Park:
“I invited him to my home last year, when I wanted to get him to Everton. That did not work, he went to Lyon.”
Depay was with Manchester United at the time, where he had struggled to live up to his potential. Instead of joining Everton he headed to Lyon in France in a deal reported by the Telegraph to be worth £16 million.
So have Everton missed out?
Depay’s struggles to settle in English football are well known. Since his move to France things have certainly improved. Depay has scored 18 goals since his move to France. However, considering he scored 28 goals in his final season at PSV prior to his United switch it is still not a massive amount.
In the time he has been in France those 18 goals have come from 61 games. His form has been good at Lyon but certainly not to the standard many expected of him when he made the move to Manchester United.
That said, £16 million today in today’s market is not a lot of money. Looking at Everton’s team, having Depay playing from the left side would have been a massive bonus for Koeman, and now for Sam Allardyce.
Depay still has plenty to improve upon and hopefully Koeman can get the best out of him during his time as the Netherlands boss.
As for Everton, they did not get their man and paid a lot more for the man he would be battling for first-team football Yannick Bolasie – who has not yet been a hit at Goodison Park.
So, all things considered, Everton probably should wish Koeman had managed to convince Depay into a Merseyside switch last January.
Everton signing Rodrigo at £35m would undermine Cenk Tosun position
The Spaniard has been linked with a move to Everton over the weekend.
Reports today have suggested that Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Brighton and Hove Albion are all keeping tabs on Valencia striker Rodrigo.
Calciomercato claim Rodrigo is wanted by all three clubs who are looking to bolster their attacking options.
The report also mentions his whopping €120 million (£105.4 million) release clause. Everton, though, are expected to start their bidding at around €40 million (£35 million).
Rodrigo is a fine striker. This season the Spanish international has netted 16 goals in 35 games for Valencia and he could head to the World Cup with Spain in the summer.
But, for Everton, his signing would only further undermine the man they finally brought in to replace Romelu Lukaku in January.
It has not been plain sailing for Turkish striker Cenk Tosun since his Goodison Park arrival. Signed for a fee reported to be in the region of £27 million by the BBC, Tosun has had to wait for his chance under Sam Allardyce.
That tactic now appears to be paying off dividends with Tosun scoring four goals in his last three games for the Toffees.
Next season, after a full pre-season schedule, Tosun will rightfully expect to be the undisputed starting striker at Everton.
No doubt, the Merseyside club could look to bring in other strikers, but splashing out this amount on a player like Rodrigo would send the wrong message to Tosun.
Rodrigo, who spent time on loan at Bolton Wanderers earlier in his career, will not be willing to play second fiddle to Tosun. Everton will also not want to pay that sort of money for him if that’s the case.
Everton should instead give Tosun a try. With the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Oumar Niasse and Ademola Lookman in reserve, they would have a good striking department without any recruits.
Spending so much money on Rodrigo would just seem a lavish expense for a side that would do better bringing in someone lower key, and lower priced.
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