For the better part of the last decade, only one team from Merseyside has finished in the top six of the Premier League, but that could change this season. Everton FC has continually played second fiddle to Liverpool, but there is plenty of optimism that both could qualify for Europe next season.
After a poor start to their campaign last season, the club decided to fire Portugese manager Marco Silva in December. A few weeks later, they filled that position with former Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti.
That signing showed that the club has very high ambitions going forward, and getting in an experienced manager was the first step in that positive direction. Ancelotti is a three-time Champions League winner, so he knows what it is like to manage a team playing at a high level.
Going into this brief summer break, not many knew what Everton was looking to accomplish in the transfer market. The first couple of weeks were pretty quiet, until the club began to assemble a bigger squad with some major signings.
29-year-old Allan was the first summer signing the club made to bolster their midfield. The Brazilian international who previously played under Ancelotti at Napoli, hopefully helping the player adjust to his new life in England quickly. He will be a quality box to box midfielder who can also be used as a “six” in a deeper midfield role if needed.
The next signing surprised a lot of people, as the club gained the services of Colombian international James Rodríguez. The attacking midfielder has played at a few elite clubs, most notably Bayern Munich in Germany and Real Madrid in Spain.
His playing time has been very limited for the last few seasons, so this transfer makes a lot of sense for both sides. Rodríguez only made eight appearances in La Liga last season, including one goal and an assist as well.
For €25 million, this move could pay off masviely if he can consistently show the same form he had for Columbia in the 2014 World Cup. When he has played big minutes for his club and country, he has talent to be one of the best midfielders in the world.
Another important thing to note is that Rodríguez has already played under Ancelotti. In their only season together at Real Madrid, the attacking midfielder had 13 goals and 4 assists in 29 league appearances, making that one of his most productive seasons in his career.
The last major signing Everton made prior to the beginning of the season was for midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré. The French international was one of the players who was expected to leave his former club Watford after they were relegated last season.
On Matchday 1, Everton had to travel down to London to play Spurs. José Mourinho is looking to lead his side back to another top four finish, so this was going to be a highly-contested fixture.
Ancelotti and his staff decided to slot all three of his new players into the starting lineup, and it paid off in the end. Everton went away from home and took all three points through a Dominic Calvert-Lewin header. Rodríguez played as the right sided attacking midfielder, and he looked really bright on the ball. Allan and Doucouré also played the entire 90 minutes, giving the club a great start to the new season.
Rest of the Squad:
When looking at the rest of the Everton squad, I see a lot of talent with a few really promising youngsters. The two leading goalscorers for the team last season are only 23-years-old. Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison each scored 13 goals, and will be looking to improve on last campaign.
Back in January, reports came out that Spanish side FC Barcelona had a bid of £85m rejected for Richarlison. The Brazilian has shown a lot of promise since he joined the Merseyside club in 2018, but the next step for him is to become one of the best attackers in the Premier League. Ancelotti has utilized him as both a striker and a winger, so it will be interesting to see where he plays more this season.
The biggest x-factor in the attack for Everton will be Italian international Moise Kean. The 20-year-old attacker joined the English side after three seasons in the Serie A with Juventus and a loan spell with Verona. The forward only scored two goals in 29 league appearances, so the club will be hopeful he can be more clinical in front on net this season.
Besides their three new signings, the team also has a few other quality midfielders who will play a lot of minutes as well. André Gomes has the ability to play as a box to box midfielder and as a ten underneath the striker. Gylfi Sigurðsson is another center attacking midfielder who has the ability to create for the rest of the frontline.
Defensively, the manager will rely on captain Seamus Coleman to keep the back four in a good shape. Lucas Digne is a quality left full back who has the ability to take dangerous set pieces. Mason Holgate, Yerry Mina, and Michael Keane will take up most of the minutes at center back, and Jordan Pickford will start every game in goal barring injury. If the defense can do a better job this season, there is no reason why this team can’t finish in the top six.
Going into this season, there is plenty of optimism that Everton under Ancelotti can push the likes of Spurs, Arsenal, and Wolves for a top six place. The 2013-2014 season was the last time they finished in those spots, so it would be a massive achievement if they were able to pull this off. After a 1-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur, I believe Everton has the capabilities to finish in the top six this season.