Window Dressing

Martin O'Connor 09/10/2020 17comments  |  Jump to last
As the long Covid-impacted transfer window has closed (with a few days of the domestic EFL window still open), how have the Blues performed?


The club have released a number of young players who were never going to make it at first-team level: Morgan Feeney, Matty Foulds, Alex Denny, Manasse Mampala and Kieran Phillips all leaving the toffees.

We have also finally said goodbye to Luke Garbutt, whose contract expired, while one-time hot prospect Fraser Hornby was sold to Stade de Reims in France for £1 million. Meanwhile, a player who never lived up to his potential, Kieran Dowell, after a number of loan moves, was sold to Norwich City for an undisclosed fee. (The Championship is Dowell’s level and with their relegation probably an astute move by Norwich.)

From the first-team squad, Morgan Schneiderlin was finally moved off the books for a £2 million transfer to Nice. In his last year of contract, and on stupid money, getting £2 million for him is actually good business. It is also goodbye to Oumar Niasse and Cuco Martina whose contracts expired. Both players always gave their all when they played for the blues, but were never up to Premier League standard. Also finally departing is Sandro Ramirez who moved to SD Huesca back in Spain on a free, gone and quickly forgotten.

On the loan front, Under-23 players Denis Adeniran, Nathangelo Markelo and Lewis Gibson have all been moved out on season-long loans to Wycombe Wanderers, Reading and FC Twente, respectively. Nothing wrong with sending young players out on loan to get experience but, at 21 years of age and being at the club since the Koeman era, I think the time for Adeniran and Markelo has passed. Giving both 1-year contract extensions and sending them out on loan is just wasting the club's time.

If, at the age of 21, you are not making a mark or getting at least close to the first team, then it is time to be moved on – not sent out on loan and given an extra years contract. Yes, you do get late developers but mostly at that age, if you are not getting close to the first team, then it is time to be let go.

Lewis Gibson, now 20, probably falls into this category as well although, to be fair, this seems to be more due to circumstances. Brought in from Newcastle United for £1 million (possibly rising to £5-6 million) at aged 17, Gibson seemed to be on a bright path at the blues. He signed a new 2½-year contract in January, after being convinced the club had a pathway for his development, and moved on a half-season loan to Fleetwood Town.

During the same January window, Jarrad Branthwaite was signed from Carlisle United, making rapid strides and gaining first-team appearances post-lockdown. With the arrival of Ben Godfrey from Norwich City, it does put into question the future of Gibson, who is now down to 6th place in the centre-back pecking order. Even when we only had Mina and Keane fit at the start of the season, Gibson was not in contention for even a first-team substitute spot. It is an open question what the future now holds for Gibson but if, after his loan spell, the club still think he is not ready to contend for a first-team spot, then he should be off-loaded next Summer.

Finally we have Theo Walcott and Moise Kean. Walcott, a £20 million waste of money courtesy of Allardyce and Walsh, was signed way past his best (if he ever had a best), from Arsenal on a hefty wage. Now gone on a season-long loan to Southampton, his wages will be split 50-50 between the Blues and the Saints. This is the best we could have got for a player who is 31 and on ridiculous money. With his contract expiring in June 2021, we can say goodbye to Mr Walcott.

Moise Kean is certainly an enigma. A player with talent, although his first touch needs to be improved, it seemed a coup when Everton signed him from Juventus. I for one thought he would be a success in his first season at the club. Sadly this has not been the case with only fleeting appearances in the first team. With the form of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, it seemed first-team exposure would be limited again this season. With this in mind, a season-long loan has been arranged for him at PSG.

I would have liked him to have stayed and fought for more first-team appearances this season myself. With Mbappe, Di Maria, Neymar, and Icardi all in front of him, (although Icardi has not exactly set the world alight since his move from Inter), he may well find first-team chances at PSG limited, especially when it comes to the really big games. But he may get league games against the like of Dijon, Nimes etc. Hopefully he will get some game time, and come back ready to go with the Blues next season. If not, then, if he has at least gained game time at PSG and being young, the blues should be able to get a good transfer fee for him, if not the £26 million we bought him in for.

We have finally said goodbye to a number of Under-23 players who have been around the club too long. But this is offset with giving new contracts to Markelo, and Adeniran and sending them out on loan, which is not good business; they should have been sold or let go this summer. Same for Con Ouzounidis who has also got a contract extension but has not gone out on loan at this time of writing. Meanwhile, we have the absolute waste of players such as Mathew Pennington and Callum Connolly still turning out for the Under-23s this season. These should, like Dowell, have been moved on.

As for the first-team, Schneiderlin and Sandro have gone for good, and Walcott will be gone once his loan move has ended. All ticks in the good box. Against this, the list of players still hanging around: Besic, Bolasie, Tosun etc, is still a blot on the working of Brands.

With the domestic EFL market still open till 16 October, Brands should put all his energy in trying to move some of the unwanted players from the club's books. It may be hard considering the wages they are handsomely given, but a window is still there to move a few on, and please, Pennington and Connolly, move on for your own careers.


The Club has given contracts to a number of young players who have made their mark in the Under-18s and latterly the Under-23s. Sebastian Quirk, Tyler Onyango and centre-back Sebastian Kristensen were all given contracts at the club. It is hoped they will progress in the coming season. There is plenty of noise and hype especially around 17-year-old Onyango in particular.

The blues snapped up Niels Nkounkou, a 19-year-old French left-back from Marseille on a free, although £240,000 was paid to Marseille in training compensation. Nkounkou was expected to go into Unsworth’s Under-23 squad but it soon became apparent he is an able deputy to Lucas Digne and has been fast-tracked into the first-team squad, putting in three good appearances in the Carabao Cup to date. A player for the now and future, and a great piece of business by Brands.

Brought in near the end of the market was Swedish midfielder Imam Jagne, signed from BK Hacken, penning a 3-year deal. Just 17, hopefully this is another good piece of business, such as Nkonkou... time will tell.

Which brings us to the five major signings. Robin Olsen, the Swedish international goalkeeper, was brought in on a season-long loan from Roma on deadline day. No matter how many Blues may claim he is an international with plenty of caps for Sweden, he is not a good goalkeeper. Signed for Roma under the Di Francesco / Monchi failure, Olsen was a goalkeeping disaster and was shipped out on loan to Cagliari where, to be fair, he did better, but improving on his form at Roma was not hard to do.

In short, Pickford is a much better keeper than Olsen. Will he bring pressure on Pickford? If he does and helps Jordan up his game, then all well and good... but he is not a good first-team 'keeper – even for a short period of time. Please don’t trust him in the Carabao Cup quarter-final, Carlo.

Centre-back Ben Godfrey, an England Under-21 international, has been signed from Norwich City for between £20-25 million on deadline day. Only 22 so lots of time to progress, Godfrey will now bring our first-team centre-backs up to five when Branthwaite and Holgate are back fit. So we now seem to be well covered in this area and may well be over-stocked.

I have to admit Godfrey made no impression on me, good or bad, any time I saw Norwich last season, which, apart from their two games against us, was probably once or twice more at best. So no judgment on him from me until I have seen him in action for the Blues.

Finally, the trio of Allan, Doucouré and Rodriguez. Allan and Doucouré have both joined for about £20 million each, while the Rodriguez deal from all reports seems to be virtually nothing, not counting wages. I can’t argue against the instant improvement all three have brought to the team, top of the league and quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, winning all seven games played so far is not to be sniffed at. André Gomes seems to have upped his game with the arrival of the trio, while even Sigurdsson has looked a half-decent player.

All three and especially Allan and Rodriguez have been brought in for the here and now. Do I think Brands would have targeted Allan and Rodriguez? No, I don’t. These are players which Ancelotti wanted for the here and now and, to be fair, Brands went and got them for good prices.

So on this trio their signings have vastly improved the team, will it last, let's hope so, but I think they show a fissure between the aims of Brands and Ancelotti. But, for the money spent on them, if it gets us success in the short-term, then we can't argue; although I still think a long-term strategy will be undermined if we carry on to pursue such players in the future.

As we survey the window, one has to come to the conclusion that the Blues have done quite good business. We have off-loaded a number of players while bringing in players (Olsen being the exception) who have had an instant impact on the team. If Brands can manage to move out a few more players in the 7-day EFL window, it will be even better. I still think there is a tension and different outlook between Brands and Ancelotti, which will not last in the long run, but at the moment, it is bringing some early season success, which we all hope will continue.

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Reader Comments (17)

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Ray Robinson
1 Posted 12/10/2020 at 09:02:29
Very good summary, Martin, of what has gone on in with recruitment, incoming and outgoing, but why do you think there is necessarily a tension between Ancelotti and Brands?

I don't see there being any conflict with Ancelotti's desire to improve the side immediately (very apparent after the way we finished last season) and Brands's remit to scout for the future, if that indeed is his role.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
2 Posted 12/10/2020 at 14:40:07
"With the domestic EFL market still open till 16 October, Brands should put all his energy in trying to move some of the unwanted players from the club's books."

Well, that has told him hasn't it Martin.
If he was sitting around feeling all smug, you have certainly given him the kick up the backsides he needed. Thanks.

Trevor Powell
3 Posted 12/10/2020 at 15:04:36
Tension between Brands and Carlo does not seem credible after the managerial failures etc. Brands would have to be an idiot to think that not buying oven-ready players such as the new midfield trio was the best course of action! Brands will also have considered that last season's squad were a short step from relegation candidates for this season and seen the immediate need for a lift in performance. Brands might have his fundamental priorities but being relegated certainly is not one of them!
Dan Nulty
4 Posted 12/10/2020 at 15:11:33
Yeah, good summary but I don't see there being any tension at all between what Brands is doing and Carlo.

Brands has a remit to buy young players with potential for the first team but it is Carlo's job to bring European football and trophies. The two don't go hand in hand unless you are extremely fortunate with the quality that comes through the youth team.

Carlo's knowledge of what Allan and James would bring should cast no doubts on anyone else he suggests in the future.

Bill Griffiths
5 Posted 12/10/2020 at 15:15:18
Like Ray I don't think there's any rift or conflict between Carlo and Marcel..
The long term goal is probably still to develop players from within the youth system while purchasing younger developing players with potential.
However it was apparent to all that the standard/level of midfield players we had was fairly pitiful and that if we wanted to seriously challenge for a top six spot we needed to bring in at least 2 or 3 experienced players capable of hitting the ground running, rather than taking a gamble on younger players with potential.
Fran Mitchell
6 Posted 12/10/2020 at 15:33:34
"Giving both 1-year contract extensions and sending them out on loan is just wasting the club's time.

If, at the age of 21, you are not making a mark or getting at least close to the first team, then it is time to be moved on – not sent out on loan and given an extra years contract. Yes, you do get late developers but mostly at that age, if you are not getting close to the first team, then it is time to be let go."

This is a widely repeated opinion. And one I really have to disagree with, and I feel one that is incredibly short-sighted.

Everton are attempting to build an academy that will be respected world wide. We want to be a club where parents can feel confident in sending their talented young child and him getting the nurture needed to make it as a professional in what is a very difficult place to make it.

Both Markelo and Adeniran where brought to this club, this club convinced their parents to uproot their teenage boys to Liverpool, we convinced them that this was the correct choice.

Now, maybe or maybe not, these boys will make it as premier League players. It is most likely they will have careers just below, or abroad.

But the club has a duty of care. We cannot simply see them get to 19/20 and 'dump them' because we realise they won't play for the first team. Sending them into the wilderness of being free agent.

So the club keeps them for an extra year, they are not leeches, they are not big earning millionaire players, they are young lads on small wages trying to make a career. The club give them a year contract, and loan them out. This way they get first team football, they get exposure and much better chance of getting a contract next season.

This is part of Everton's role. This is what an academy is about, not just as a breeding ground for the first team, but as a university of football so to speak, where our graduates can go on and make professional careers in the game.

If we dumped every 17/18 year old.when we noticed they didn't have what it takes to be PL standard, what parent in the world is going to say "yes, we trust you to develo our child".

Chris Williams
7 Posted 12/10/2020 at 15:34:51
There was a recent interview in the Echo, last week I think, where Carlo lavished praise on Brands, and particularly his speedy professional and meticulous approach. He said they had a great working relationship. And hoped it would continue. He was surprised when told that Brands’ contract expired at the end of the season.

So no tension there if he was being honest.

Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 12/10/2020 at 15:58:04
Fran (6) I agree entirely with your views on how we treat and look after young players after signing them, lots of times Everton help these young players to move on and get a chance to stay in the game and make a decent career in football and we don’t receive any fee for doing so.

At other times we get fees, which help to keep the Acadamy profit making, recent players like Hornsby, Evans, Robinson, Williams and Dowell bringing around £10mM and that is in the last eighteen months.

Conor McCourt
9 Posted 12/10/2020 at 17:57:24
Martin great summary of events and like you I do feel that there has been a level of deviation from Brands strategy with this summers outlay. I agree Carlo's signings means that we really must finish top six since he has got the players for the here and now.

However Personally I am really confused and the message we are sending with the late developments. I really feel Carlo has been shit on with the outgoings of Kean and Theo as I can't believe it's in the manager's interests for these calls to have been made and if we aren't to arrange a surprise second raid on Watford for Sarr then I feel will put the nail on the coffin to our top six chances.

Unlike Martin I was really impressed by Godfrey as for me he outshone many of the other Norwich starlets. Aaron's is naive defensively, Lewis was the most consistent but looks to have a ceiling, Buendia is brilliant but flakey, Cantwell lacks a gear and Idah is really raw.

However on the flip side he looks like a typical Brands signing but with the four options there already doesn't seem a pre-requisite for Carlo's immediate objectives. I have never been a fan of Theo but Carlo had him ahead of Iwobi, Bernard and Gordon and is the only option on the right who can stretch teams plus he can chip in with the odd goal.

The loan signing of Kean is just madness. For all his problems he is a predator who will score goals and I was really looking forward to see his development this season. Carlo was a fan as he even tried to sign him for Napoli.

James rarely is fit for more than half a campaign and although none of our three forwards are replaceable, Kean is a different option due to his finishing ability. I don't think we have players in the squad that have the same attributes to Theo and Moise and surely Brands could have got rid of the likes of Delph who offers nothing that we don't have in abundance.

It would just be typical Everton to be watching Kean bang them in for PSG while Iwobi is clearing the Gwladys and help us finish to a 'work in progress' eighth.

Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 12/10/2020 at 18:51:48
Martin, excellent summary, but like most respondents so far I tend to wave off Marcel and Carlo's alleged "tension"... that's just blind speculation.

With regards to Pennington and Connolly, it's so easy to say that they "should, like Dowell, have been moved on", but it's not just the wave of a wand and a snap of the fingers. Every transfer requires not only a selling club but a willing buyer -- and a player willing to go to that buyer. We have no way of knowing whether there were clubs out there willing to meet Everton's price for those players, and if so whether the players wanted to go there. These are professionals who have, by contract, the right to decide whether they want to play for a particular club or manager, and they certainly don't owe us blind obedience just to get their (presumably minimal) wages off our books. A contract is a contract. Both ways.

Conor #9, I tend to agree on Kean -- shipping your only reserve forward seems crazy -- but the domestic window isn't closed yet, so let's see what Marcel and Carlo come up with.

Barry Rathbone
11 Posted 12/10/2020 at 19:09:41
"Moise Kean is certainly an enigma. A player with talent, although his first touch needs to be improved"

He's crap.

Rom gets away with trapping a ball with his shin or his nose because other physical attributes make him productive Kean has nothing.

Watching his show reel tap ins for Juve you could see him being a one season wonder, Franny Jeffers incarnate..

Terence Leong
12 Posted 12/10/2020 at 19:28:39
Re moving Kean out on loan, there could be the consideration that Tosun is coming back to fitness. Tosun, for his lack of pace and physical presence, has a more superior finishing ability and around the box awareness, compared to DCL.
Many fans would agree that Tosun has suffered from a lack service; with the new midfield, he might still come good.
So, I think there is still a player in there.
Niall McIlhone
13 Posted 12/10/2020 at 21:59:13
A good article Martin, however, the signing of James is a potential game changer for Ancelotti and Everton if our superstar can stay fit and injury free, who knows? I think you were a little bit light on the significance of this signing, but time will tell.

I am starting to think of it being comparable to Man United snatching Cantona from Leeds for just. £1 million, and transforming the team into something very special. I would hope we would all agree that the new midfielder have gelled superbly in no time at all so great credit must go to CA and MB for getting the deals over the line.

Mark Andersson
14 Posted 12/10/2020 at 23:40:07
One game at a time next up the shite...

Carlo needed to get his own men in the team he inherited had no desire fight or enough collective skill to get the job done.

Bill Watson
15 Posted 13/10/2020 at 07:23:30
Conor #9

Could you tell me exactly what Theo's attributes are?

Sorry, I must have missed them.

Pat Kelly
16 Posted 14/10/2020 at 10:52:11
And what about the lesser spotted Shanai Tarashaq ? I read his loan has been terminated so he's back in the fold in contention for a locker.
Graham Lloyd
17 Posted 14/10/2020 at 11:25:34
Well done Martin. A great read. I'm not 100% sure there is tension between Carlo and Brands but, if there is, we are reaping its rewards regardless!

I was also initially concerned by the Kean loan to PSG. If he gets game time then he'll come back either a better player or a more valuable asset to sell. He showed some early promise without really delivering the goals. I've said it previously but his body language to me at least was screaming "Get me outta here!" particularly when he scored his couple of goals. We are short up top, but I'll take this window if it ends as is. Tosun may be better with better players around him and we can always promote one of the kids. It's not more risk than Kean having a sulk and being poor or discovering Tosun really isn't up to it.

I don't think we should go for King unless he was really cheap. Decent player but I'd rather wait to see what Tosun or one of the kids plays like with the new midfield.

Up the blues!

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