The Unknown Quantity
Even by Everton's standards it was a saga of tortuous proportions, but
today Tomasz Radzinski will become Everton's second signing of the summer
after weeks of bitter wrangling, a war of words and threats of official
action between Everton and Anderlecht.
The Belgian club, having already lost striker Jan Koller this summer,
were reluctant to part with Radzinski and were angry at what they perceived
to be an illegal approach by Everton. Reports that they were prepared
to have Everton charged by FIFA never came to fruition, but the off-and-on
deal's chief snag was the transfer fee.
Everton's initial bid of £3.8m was rejected and with the Blues'
well-known cash problems it looked unlikely that Radzinski's hopes of
a dream move to the Premiership would be fulfilled. However, the negotiations
were rescued from collapse by a final bid of £4.5m that sealed the
deal and brought Anderlecht's top scorer in the Champions League last
season to Goodison Park.
Despite his scoring record during his time in Belgium (38 goals over
the past two seasons), the Polish-born Canadian international is still
a little-known quantity in England. And Evertonians well remember the
last time the club shelled out £4.5m on a an international player;
Alex Nyarko's move from Lens last summer has thus far been an unmitigated
disaster, and neither Ibrahima Bakayoko nor Slaven Bilic (also bought
for the same fee) will be remembered all that fondly by the Goodison faithful.
But if Radzinski's reputation is to be believed, Everton could have picked
the perfect replacement for Francis Jeffers. The word on the 27 year-old
striker is that he is lightening fast and knows how to score goals which,
if true, would make him the perfect partner for Kevin Campbell and compensate
for the loss of Jeffers' pace. And having put two goals past Manchester
United in last season's Champions League is always a good thing to have
on your CV!
The surprised reaction on the part of some outside of Goodison at Radzinski's
decision to turn his back on the chance to play in the Champions League
again next season in favour of joining struggling Everton goes some way
towards vindicating Walter Smith's dogged determination to land his man
and bodes well for the coming season.
However, there is a down-side to signing a player of Radzinski's alleged
calibre, and that is the pressure it puts on the club to get things right
this season and show real signs of progress. If Tomasz impresses greatly
despite Everton battling at the wrong end of the Premiership, the Premiership
vultures will be circling Goodison Park looking to offer the new-found
star the prospect of Europe once more and the higher echelons of the division.
Tomasz Radzinksi could become another Lineker - in and out before Blues
fans have a chance to take him to their hearts.
And, the player's loyalty to the cause notwithstanding, there is a very
real danger of that very scenario occurring if Smith doesn't choose to
- or isn't able to - strengthen the Everton midfield, an area that is
the root cause of the team's problems. So far he has shown interest in
every position except the midfield, and that is a cause for concern.
Without a creative spark to match the industry provided by the likes
of Gravesen, Pembridge and Gemmill, Everton are going to struggle to provide
Messers Radzinski, Ferguson and Campbell with any ammunition. Niclas Alexandersson
and Alex Nyarko have not shown so far that they are capable of filling
that role of provider so far, and it should be Smith's top priority now
that he has got his most difficult task of the summer out of the way.
Despite the ease with which Evertonians have greeted the departure of
Jeffers, the team are going to badly miss his goals and his mobility.
If Tomasz Radzinski can replace the talent of Highbury's latest acquisition,
the Blues at least have the ability up front to capitalise if the management
can solve the dearth of magic in the midfield.
©2001 ToffeeWeb, 17 July 2001
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