Filling The Need at Center Back: Where Should Everton Look? Part Two
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Everton need a centerback in January. They have been left fragile in the back. Let’s take a look at some more options that Everton need in defense.
If you haven’t already check out Part 1 about Center backs Everton need to sign, please do. We talk about a few Under 23 and Youth options Everton should target. Now, let’s take a look at more developed center backs that Everton should be looking into.
As everyone is well aware, Kurt Zouma did a good job for Everton least season and with Antonio Rudiger back, either he, Fikayo Tomori – who Brands tried to get in during the summer, or Andreas Christensen may be on the move. I personally think they are a decent bunch and unless Chelsea do something like exercise their £40M purchase option on Nathan Ake, I can’t believe they are going anywhere. Nevertheless, Chelsea fans seems to disagree with me.
Andreas Christensen, Chelsea, 23. Christensen is a very sound and reliable center back that is still only 23 despite playing like a more experienced player. He’s a bit different than the other 2 as he is very risk averse in his passing, although his first touch is excellent and he has the ability to play the long ball or especially cut through the defense with a through pass. His anticipation is outstanding, he reads the well exceptionally well for his age, and seems to always make the right decisions in terms of when to go forward, when to recover, and when to hack someone down.
He’s 6’2”, very graceful, and has above average acceleration that keep him from having to make too many tackles – as Maldini once famously said, “If I have to make a tackle then I have already made a mistake.” Yet when he needs to make one, he’s extremely effective and has the highest tackle success rate in our sample. That being said, he’s not dominant in the air and if forced into a lot of combative situations against a physical CF, he might not fare well – in fact, he’s probably still having nightmares of being bullied by Dominic Calvert Lewin a few weeks ago. I can’t image Chelsea wanting to move him, but if so, he’d be expensive and in demand, even if at times he doesn’t look like the best fit in a very physically demanding PL.
Kurt Zouma, Chelsea, 25. Evertonians know how solid Kurt Zouma was last season and how close he came to joining Everton permanently we’ll never know. Zouma is a good all-around defender with a combination of power and pace that is very rare. He’s almost impossible to knock off the ball, tremendous in the air – 2nd highest win % in our data sample, and underrated as a ball player.
He’s still a bit clumsy at times and his first touch is not elite, but he’s a very good PL defender. He’s made quite a few mistakes at Chelsea, some of which were shocking to Everton fans that saw a very sound defender last season, but he’s seemed to have turned it around. He would also command a significant fee and while Chelsea might be willing to sell, I’m not sure Everton is willing to pay top dollar for him.
Fikayo Tomori, Chelsea, 22 (as of December 19). Tomori just turned 22 and although a bit raw, has tremendous quickness and athleticism that he uses to good effect. He loves to go to ground to make a tackle and while he’s a bit inconsistent in that regard, he can make some spectacular recovery runs and tackles to thwart counter attacks and fast breaks. His balance is exceptional and he can use his quickness to get around bigger players and win the ball aggressively.
However, he has some weaknesses in the air as he’s not especially tall at 6’1” and still a bit slight. He can get knocked off the ball and bullied a bit and shows some weaknesses winning the ball off set pieces. Obviously, as he gets bigger and stronger that can change and overall, he is still very successful in combative situations – he has one of the highest success rates in defensive dues this year in the PL. Beyond that, he’s very inconsistent playing the ball and his first touch is questionable, but when he does settle the ball he can actually go by players. He shows good ball handling for a CB and I can see why he could play RB if need be. He does pulls off some spectacular passes at times and can create a bit for his teammates from the back line.
Although he’s right footed, his left foot is excellent as well. As he improves, I could see him developing into an elite ball playing CB and a very good complement to Yerry Mina. However, Chelsea would be mad to let him go and he was likely only linked in the summer because he only had 2 years left on his contract. He has since signed a new 5 year deal with Chelsea and would likely only entertain a loan. If there isn’t a purchase option, not sure why Everton would want to help improve a PL rival by giving him experience at the expense of Mason Holgate.
In summary, I just don’t see any of the Chelsea CBs coming to Everton. Perhaps if they move for another CB, Everton could consider, but the price is probably too high for Everton at this point for any of them and there are other options. If Chelsea were to entertain a loan for any of them, that may change things of course.
The following players have been linked leading up to this winter and have already played significant minutes in a top 5 league with a high degree of success. Every one of these individuals would likely be expensive and unlikely to come to Everton, but crazier things have happened and each of these would be expected to come in and start or play significant minutes:
John Egan, Sheffield United, 27. Egan’s performance this season has been critical to a team that has had minimal possession in the PL (18th, 45%) and is defending quite a bit. For the most part, despite not having the ball, Sheffield has done a good job preventing chances and goals. They’ve only conceded 21 goals, good for 3rd in the PL, and John Egan is at the heart of that. He usually sits in the middle of a back 3 or 5 and is an excellent all-around CB.
Egan does just about everything well. I love his concentration and focus – his head is always on the ball and his awareness is excellent. He tracks the ball well from the back, gets himself in good positions, takes proper angles, tracks runners in space well, and seems to always know when to break off and attack the ball. He’s not big at 6’1” and not bulky, but he has good acceleration, good balance, and good timing that helps him guard quicker players in space and win balls in the air against bigger opponents. If Egan was two inches taller his valuation would be through the roof.
In attack, he’s very tricky off of set pieces. He does a good job getting himself free and getting his head on corners, even if he doesn’t always finish them. His ball playing skills were a bit more pronounced in the Championship and his passing % numbers are poor in the PL. However, this is more due to Egan playing the ball long to safety or in support of a counter, thus having one of the highest average pass lengths in our sample. Even now and then, he will break on longer balls play into the middle, win a ball clean from a CF and get a chance to make a play either in the dribble or pass.
He is also very confident passing the ball out of the back under pressure if necessary – maybe a bit too confident at times, but I believe he could properly support a team with more possession. He has also played in a back four with Ireland, although the team hasn’t looked particularly good recently. Regardless, Egan is absolutely key to what Sheffield are doing and they would have every right to ask for a significant fee, certainly no lower than £35-40 and possibly more. Everton aren’t in the position to make that kind of offer this January and Egan does come with some risk that he might not be as effective in a different setup. As a result, I would be surprised if they made an offer.
Unai Nunez, Athletic Club Bilbao, 22. Nunez is one of the hottest young defenders in Europe with a £30M release clause that several teams are rumored to be willing to meet including Bayern Munich, Arsenal, and Everton. Normally a player of his reputation wouldn’t considering leaving, but Nunez has played less than 500 minutes in the league this season as he is stuck behind the elite pair of Yeray Alvarez and Inigo Martinez. I categorize him as a proven talent after playing almost 3000 minutes in the league in 17/18 and over 1,000 last season while Yeray Alvarez was recovering from cancer treatments. Nunez is the typical Bilbao player that grew up in the Basque country worshiping the club and is one of a long list of players that came from Athletic’s cantera. The club is frankly remarkable in its history and continued relevance.
Nunez is young, although he is advanced in many regards. His technique in closing down defenders is exceptional. His reading of the game and his anticipation are good and is very aggressive, which is why he is usually engaged in many defensive duels. He has the highest number of defensive actions in our sample over 90 minutes and amongst the highest number of interceptions inside the other team’s defensive zone. Nunez is very tough, physical, absolutely fearless, and loves a tackle. He’s gotten his share of yellow cards as well, but it’s not due to losing his composure. He’s got good balance and is rarely knocked off the ball. His right foot is also good and although he’s relatively conservative playing the ball out of the back, he has a lot of progressive passes. If he has time on the ball, he has the ability to switch fields or play the ball over the top very accurately. He simply doesn’t make many mistakes and I can see why he was such a good pair with Aymeric Laporte.
He’s not blessed with great height – he’s maybe 6’1” – and while his timing and strength are good, he isn’t going to rise up over taller strikers and consistently win aerial duels and his poor aerial win % rates support that. He also has decent feet, hips, and dexterity for someone of his strength, but I wouldn’t describe him as exceptionally quick or athletic. I did see him get beaten by quicker players in the middle of the field, especially in transition as his recovery speed and acceleration is not elite. He doesn’t struggle as much when asked to run out after wide players to cover his wide defenders because his technique is so good and his focus is exceptional. But while he’s a good player and still has lots of potential, he doesn’t make much sense paired with a player like Yerry Mina, who would be better served with someone a bit quicker and athletic.
Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli, 28. I think it’s highly likely that links to Koulibaly are mostly done by lazy journalists making some connection with Ancelotti who was at Napoli. Koulibaly would cost close to £100M, despite November reports by the Daily Mail that the asking price is now £69M because he was one of the players to have hired bodyguards to protect themselves and their families from ultra fans following their abysmal start to the season (yes that was a real article). Koulibaly is debatably one of the best CB on the planet and excels in defense and attack. He’s an aggressive CB that wins tackles all over the pitch (and occasionally puts a boot into someone). He can shut down both quicker and strong players in a variety of ways.
He’s a danger on set pieces – even though he’s not actually 6’5” as listed, he looks closer to 6’2” – and gets himself forward often enough to occasionally threaten the goal. He has the highest number of forward passes in our sample (and a good completion %) and has well above average creative numbers for a CB – assists, 2nd and 3rd assists, through passes, deep completions, passes to the final 3rd, etc. He’s an elite CB that’s too expensive for Everton this January and of an age profile that is unlikely Brands would go for him. Not sure he would come, either, but the article is supposed to address recent links, so mission accomplished.
Nathan Aké, Bournemouth, 24. Ake is another player Everton was linked to in mid December and seemingly on and off for the past year or so. Ake is a smallish CB at around 5’11” that is left footed, decent on the ball, and a Dutch national so while I understand the logic behind any interest from Brands or Everton, Bouremouth have no reason to sell him for anything other than a significant number. Another factor is that Chelsea has a purchase option on him for £40M, which they may exercise.
Ake’s primary weakness is his lack of height and aerial ability and it’s no surprise he has the lowest aerial duel win rate in our sample at 43% over the past two years. However, Ake is quick and strong, reads the game well, and breaks on the ball to cover for his other CB if need be as well as anyone. He wins quite a large number of duels putting him in the top 10 in the PL per 90 minutes. He’s good defending 1 v. 1 in space and even if he doesn’t have the right angle on a defender, his balance, change of direction, and acceleration can make up the difference.
He’s a good ball player and his quick distribution can be key for Bournemouth to spring their quick, counterattacking method of play under Eddie Howe. All of this makes for a solid CB, but not an elite one and it’s hard to ignore the high goals against number for Bournemouth’s sides the past several seasons. While his profile may make some sense, he would cost a significant fee and not sure he’s much more than an above average CB in the PL.
Diego Javier Llorente
Diego Javier Llorente, 26, Real Sociedad. Llorente was heavily linked to Everton in summer and might mesh well with Yerry Mina. Llorente is a 6’1” center back that anchors a good Sociedad defense that has helped push them into the 5th spot in La Liga. He is good technically and although right footed, he’s also very good with his left and has played both right and left center back. He’s an all-around good player that typically makes good decisions with the ball. He has composure with the ball, solid ball control, and excellent vision for the field even if he doesn’t always connect with some of his longer passes. In defense, he has good dexterity and acceleration.
He’s never going to overpower anyone, but he has good balance and isn’t afraid to put his shoulder into an opponent. His anticipation is also excellent, especially on aerial challenges where he uses good timing and judgement along with quickness to get around his opponent and get his head on the ball. He can be aggressive at times, but rarely is irresponsible and is excellent at covering for his teammate. He is not aggressive playing it out of his own end and rarely takes chances with the ball in the back. He’s simply a very good all-around defender that could help any team.
That being said, the PL is more physical and Llorente’s size might be a concern. While I’m sure he could adapt and be a solid player, I’m not sure he projects to be anything more than. Real Sociedad is also one of the savviest teams in football and wouldn’t let their most reliable central defender leave while they are pushing for Europe for anything less than a significant overpay. I don’t see that happening in January.
Ruben Dias, 22, Benfica. Dias is a classy defender that already has made 16 appearances for Portugal and shows an advanced game for a 22-year-old. Players like him don’t come cheap and Benfica has no reason to sell below his £60M release clause other than being knocked out in the Champions League, so he’s probably another one that Everton can’t afford during the window.
Nonetheless, Dias is an interesting player who reads the game well and is very defensively responsible. He rarely overcommits or aggressively engages in trying to win the ball, but instead sits back and reads the game, more often providing cover for his partner, Ferro, who is a lot more aggressive. Together they form probably the best defensive pairing in Liga NOS and one of the best in Europe.
In fact, Benfica have only conceded 5 goals in the league all season. Dias tackles well, but does not often step in front of a player to pick off a pass and predictably he has the lowest interceptions per 90 rates in our sample. However, this isn’t due to him being a poor athlete, he has good balance and great feet to go along with good strength. He’s a very graceful player that can change directions and accelerate well and is difficult to beat 1 v. 1. His positioning is sound and he does a great job reacting to crosses and staying goalside on runners. Ironically, he fouls more often than Ferro, but most of it is tactical rather than recklessness or being out of position.
Dias is good in the air, but he’s 6’1” and not going to jump over players. Instead he puts himself in good position by using footwork and strength and often wins the ball through timing and focus. He actual has noticeable accuracy with his head and can occasionally score off set pieces as he is elusive and clever in the box. He’s a good ball player, but not an overly aggressive one. His first touch is a bit inconsistent, but he doesn’t give the ball away and is certainly capable of playing an accurate long ball. In fact, although he doesn’t have a high volume of passes into dangerous areas, he’s still effective with the occasional incisive pass and has some of the higher creation numbers in our sample.
I can see Dias continuing to get better as he gets stronger and more confident in his duels. I would love to see him step in front of defenders more and win the ball, but he still seems more comfortable sitting on their backs and containing them. Some of this may be due to his outstanding chemistry with Ferro, but it would add more productivity to his game. Beyond that, he could be a bit more consistent in his 1 v. 1 technique and posture as well as his first touch and ball playing ability. However, that’s nitpicking a bit as he’s already very steady for a 22-year-old and it’s obvious why he’s been linked to several PL clubs including Manchester City.
Ferro, 22, Benfica. Francisco Reis Ferreira, or otherwise known as Ferro, is the yin to Ruben Dias yang in the heart of the Benfica defense. In fact, his absence was critical in a key loss to Lyon that in essence knocked Benfica out of the Champions League. He only stepped into the starting lineup later last season due to injury to Jardel, but showed enough to lock down his spot to the left of Ruben Dias.
As noted above, Ferro is the more aggressive of the two and is involved in many more defensive duels. He’s got great size at 6’3” and wins a lot of balls using good angles and length. If anything, he’s probably too aggressive in the tackle in 1 v. 1 situations and lunges at the ball too often only to get beat instead of containing the attacker. Some of this may also be due to the reliability of his partner, Ruben Dias. As opposed to 1 v. 1, Ferro is better in stepping in front of players to pick off passes where he shows a more measured aggressiveness.
Keep in mind, Ferro doesn’t foul that often and while he looks a bit long and clumsy at times, he is actually quite coordinated. His feet are good and his reactions aren’t slow, although he gets a bit too focused on the ball at times and could improve his overall awareness of the attack in front and to the side of him. He’s good in the air, but much of that is due to his size and athleticism. He could be dominant if he improved on his positioning, anticipation, and his concentration.
In terms of on the ball, he has one of the longest average pass lengths in our sample and shows great touch and weight on long balls played in behind the defense as well as accuracy playing hard, low balls bypassing midfield. Unsurprisingly, Ferro is aggressive in his playing making and rarely passes the ball backwards. He looks fluid on the ball, even with his size, and is very confident – you won’t see him carry the ball forward too often to shorten a pass, he’ll just take a soft, sure first touch and ping it forwards like it’s a five-yard pass to a player right in front of him. In fact, in general, when in possession, he tends to sit deep and rarely ventures forward with the exception of the occasional set piece. Often he sits more in the middle and pushes Dias up to the right.
Ferro is a bit raw and reckless, which isn’t totally unexpected at age 22 with the relatively short time spent in first team football, but his talent is undeniable. He’s got size, skill, and raw athleticism that with more physical maturity as well as more consistent technique and awareness could turn him into one of the better defenders in Europe. He just signed a new contract in October reported with an £100M release clause. I doubt Benfica would sell either for less than a big number, but Ferro might be the more difficult one to pry away due to his high ceiling.
There have been a whole group of other names Everton has been linked to from the summer that we explore below in varying levels of competition and experience:
Adama Soumaoro, 27, Lille. He’s a terrific defender that’s very strong on the ball, can mark someone in space, is tough to beat 1 v 1, wins a ton of duels in the air – highest win % in our sample, has a terrific sense positioning and anticipation, and I think could defend well in the PL. But he plays a very simple passing game and will rarely play anything but a safe pass to a teammate. He’s a pure stopper and would be useful against certain clubs. He’s also powerful and dangerous on set pieces. L’Equipe believes he could be had for £13-11M as even though he’s club captain for Lille, he’s not playing that often and wants a move to the PL. 27 isn’t that old for a CB, but I would think Everton wants someone with a slightly different profile, although the club could do worse.
Marcus Rojo, Manchester United, 29. I know a lot don’t think highly of him, but I do believe that he’d be a good fit on loan at some price. He’s left sided, left footed, wins his fair share of duels, is very physical, but doesn’t actually foul or get cards at a particularly high rate, so that’s a bit of a myth. He can distribute well with his left foot and can even play LB if need be.
Brands pretty much implied in his transfer window wrap up that he didn’t believe it made sense to get someone that wasn’t appreciably better than what we already have, but in this case, Everton is looking for depth and he’s not playing at United. Perhaps that changes things, but my guess his that his loan would be expensive as he’s on a reported £80K a week at United and that Brands didn’t think that highly of him to begin with as he was available in the summer. That means we can look forward to Newcorp owned entities making up more transfer rumors about him this window.
Karim Rekik, Hertha Berlin, 25 (as of December 2). He’s actually a Man City youth product and probably counts as a home grown player in England, so that’s a bonus. Rekik is left footed, strong, and a key part of a defense that’s only given up 12 goals in open play in the Bundesliga this year, good enough for 5th. He’s been playing well for Hertha since Jurgen Klinsmann took over as the starting LCB in a 4-1-4-1. His distribution is excellent and he shows tremendous passing range. However, he can be a bit deliberate with the ball and even have it taken occasionally in bad places. In general, I’m not sure his game translates well to the PL. He reads the game well, puts himself into good positions, and wins most of the duels he engages in.
However, he can be a step slow in winning the ball and gets beat as a result. He just doesn’t look like a tremendous athlete and isn’t light or his feet and doesn’t turn quickly. His acceleration and anticipation are maybe average in the Bundesliga and his aerial numbers are also not the best – some of the lowest in our sample. While he is strong, I don’t see him rise up over defenders to win a ball in the air. That profile doesn’t usually translate to a PL stalwart. He is still young and likely wouldn’t be super expensive, but I can’t imagine Jurgen Klinsman in a new job will be too interested in moving a starting CB for nothing. I would imagine any links from the summer will probably not resurface and while he is left footed and can play a ball, I just don’t see him as being a good fit for the PL.
Sebastián Coates Nión
Sebastián Coates Nión, Sporting CP, 29. There were some links to Coates in the summer, but I think it’s highly unlikely the former PL and Liverpool CB would make a move to England and Everton at this point in his career. He’s right footed, right-sided, loves a long pass, and starting at Sporting CP and has for several years now. He didn’t do well in England and especially at Liverpool and Everton no longer has Silva and his connection to Sporting.
Daniel Schwaab, 31, PSV. Schwaab was only linked because he was out of contract in the summer and Brands signed him at PSV on a free and he did well. He’s since signed with PSV for another year, but it’s highly unlikely he would be the right player for Everton as he’d be strictly emergency depth even if he does have some ball playing ability.
Ragnar Klavan, Cagliari, 34. Several sources have indicated that Ancelotti has inquired about the former Liverpool player to provide CB depth. He moved to Cagliari for £2M and would be affordable as his contract is up in the summer, but he’s also 34 years old, played for the red side, and seems like an atypical Brands type signing. He is left footed and can definitely pass from the back to switch fields and to bypass attacking lines. He’s reliable with the ball, but still capable in defense as he’s decent in the air and quite effective at picking off passes and winning tackles.
He’s definitely lost a step and can be exposed on balls over the top, but it’s worth noting that Cagliari does press and play a higher line at times, although they also drop back and defend in a familiar 442. He’s the Estonia captain and has been praised in the past for his leadership. It sounds like a strange rumor that will likely amount to nothing, but I can’t help but think he might be a decent short term fit if Ancelotti feels as though the team needs some leadership and wants to allocate funds on a CM or attacking player instead.
Djené Dakonam, Getafe, 27. Djene has been linked with a variety of bigger clubs over the past two years including Everton in the summer and rumor has it he has a £31M release clause. He’s listed at 6’2” on Getafe’s website, but I’ve seen his height listed everywhere between 6’1” and 5’10”. He does appear on the shorter side, but he’s still quick, strong, and extremely aggressive leading our sample with 1.38 fouls a game over the past two years along with many yellow and 3 red cards. He’s aerial numbers are decent and he has exceptional leaping ability to make up for his lack of height.
At times his aerial game looks downright explosive and he’s especially accurate when uncontested passing with his head. He’s about as active a CB as you will see and is constantly in motion. He’s very aggressive at running at defenders and trying to win balls everywhere on the pitch. At times his aggression can get the best of him and take himself out of position. He can also get overzealous and administer some very hard tackles that result in bookings. He loves blowing up attackers with standing tackles once he tracks them down. Djene shows good recovery speed, but he rarely needs it as his quickness, hips, balance, and strength make him hard to beat in the first place.
He does show some technical skills in his distribution, but his first touch is inconsistent and his passing even over shorter distances is often hurried and lacks precision at times – his passing success rates on short and medium passes is about the worst in our sample. Djene just has tremendous urgency about his play and at times his haste makes even short passes a bit heavy and less accurate than his recipients would like them to be.
He’s a very unique player and wildly entertaining for a central defender. When Djene is on his game, he puts tremendous pressure on the opposite all over the pitch. As much fun as it would be to see him in a blue Everton kit as his aggressiveness and attitude would bring the Goodison crowd to its feet, I feel he’s a bit reckless and not sure his ball skills would translate to the PL.
Merih Demiral, 21, Juventus. I only added Demiral due to late transfer rumors due to a recent Telegraph report indicating Ancelotti has interest. Keep in mind, this is the same publication that indicated Everton is reeling due to losses and implied the club couldn’t spend any money, so I guess the editors aren’t too focused on consistency in messaging. Prior to Everton being linked, transfer rumors report that Leicester City had bid £30M and Dortmund had bid £40M for the 6’3” Turk who just came to Juventus in the summer from Sassuolo for £21M.
Demiral has just broken into the first team at Juventus and has made several appearances in the last several weeks, many of which have impressed. Either way, Juventus has an abundance of central defenders in its ranks including Chiellini – who is currently injured, Bonucci, Daniele Rugani, and the 3 buys from the summer in Demiral, de Ligt (for 100M I might add), and even Christian Romero who is on loan at Genoa. So it’s likely one of these players will be available.
Demiral is young and aggressive, with a high number of duels, tackles, interceptions, and fouls. He shows good pace and dexterity for a 6’3” player with good recovery speed / acceleration and lots of attitude and effort.
Demiral is absolutely fearless and while he does foul a bit, he is not out of control or reckless. In 1 v. 1 defending, his technique is not always perfect as he can be a bit upright at times and uses his hand a bit too much, but he can change direction well and his feet are good for someone his size. He doesn’t always turn the right way when trying to contain a player running at him, either, but most of this is expected at age 21, even for a first team player in a big club.
He’s very good in the air and wins a high percentage of his aerial challenges and it’s easy to see why. He is big, strong, can jump, and is both physical and aggressive. Even when his positioning is slightly off, he will literally just jump straight over the player if he has to. His determination is remarkable, although he gets a lot of foul calls going over players that are unnecessary with better body position.
His passing and ball playing ability is mediocre at best. He plays is safe more often than not. He doesn’t look very fluid with the ball, but he does move it quickly and safely around the pitch. He has a low complete % of long passes and it’s an area he can improve in. Overall, Demiral looks like a super talent. He’s already very good and has a lot of raw talent. He will likely only get better and can still improve a lot, which is scary. I personally can’t see why Juventus would sell him. Bonucci is 32. Chiellini is 35. They will need replacing sooner rather than later. He’s a full international from a football mad country.
Keep in mind, I’m operating under the assumption that Everton is in a tough FFP situation and can’t spend a fortune on a CB. I also believe the bigger need for Everton is CM. As a result, my personal opinion is that if Mohammed Salisu is available for £12M, I think Everton needs to seriously consider it. He may not be QUITE as quick and nimble as Jean Clair Todibo, but he is already a more polished defender and is still an outstanding athlete for his size. He could contribute right away at Everton on the left side of central defense and while he still has things to learn tactically, he’s controlled, technically good, left footed, and has the physical tools to be an elite CB.
Now in general, I believe Everton have greater need for a CM and believe if they are going to spend significant money, that’s the area that most needs improvement. If that is the way Everton goes, perhaps a loan makes more sense. Obviously, if Chelsea make a big splash and Kurt Zouma is available, that would be a no brainer. However in lieu of that, I could see Everton going two different very cheap routes.
If Everton is just looking for short term depth and reliability, a loan for Adama Soumamoro wouldn’t be crazy, as he’s a terrific defender, but doesn’t offer much in support of the attack. If Everton wants short term depth, but more ball playing ability on the super cheap, as strange as it sounds, Ragnar Klavan would be an interesting acquisition for a year or two. He’s been surprisingly effective in a team that plays higher lines and presses, albeit in a slower league. Both would add leadership, which I get the impression this team badly needs. Marcos Rojo would also not be a crazy loan idea, but I’m not sure I would pay his entire salary of 80K a week.
I think it will also be interesting to see if Everton takes a hard look at bringing in a younger player like Jarrad Branthwaite, although he won’t help the 1st team any time soon.
I recognize that there are some other outstanding players on the list, but with my considerations noted above, I eliminated the following for various reasons:
Good players that I don’t believe fit well at Everton or the PL (Nunez / Rekik / Djene / Coates / Schwaab)
Players that are outstanding, but too expensive (Koulibaly / Tomori / Ferro / Demiral)
Players I think are decent, but overpriced or just not worth spending all of Everton’s meager budget in January (Egan / Ake / Llorente / Dias)
If funds were unlimited, it would be Koulibaly hands down as he is one of the best players on the planet. I do believe the talents of Tomori would be an excellent fit alongside Yerry Mina. I also think Demiral is terrific and would be great paired with anyone. And while he is a bit of a risk, I love Ferro’s potential and think he could become a world class defender with a lot of work.
There’s also a whole list of players I would look at beyond those that we’ve been linked with above. But of the above population, Salisu seems to make the most sense considering FFP restrictions and Brands likely time horizon. He could help a lot right now and perhaps a TON in the future.
Any with that comes a end to our look at center backs Everton need for their defense. As always, make sure you follow us on Twitter @ToffeeTargets for more up to date Everton transfer news.