Roberto Martinez, as of the 8th July acquired the services of his former Wigan striker Arouna Kone. Martinez, of whom has taken the tough task of replacing David Moyes as Everton manager. Upon being unveiled, he said that he is looking to take Everton into the Champions League within a few years. A much more ambitious starting point to that of David Moyes’ aims when he took over at Goodison Park, who said he wanted to just keep the Toffees up at that time. Much of this is vindication of David Moyes’ fruitful managerial spell as Everton manager.
Arouna Kone was signed for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around £5m. He is a very quick striker who also possesses a decent finishing ability. For Everton, it will be refreshing to see even more pace up front after Kevin Mirallas’ arrival last season. With Nikica Jelavic’s severe dip in form last year and Victor Anichebe, although contributing well, simply not scoring enough goals, it looks as though a striker was necessary for the blues. At 29-years old, the signing of Kone is reminiscent of Everton’s signing of Louis Saha in 2008 who was the same age.
Albeit, it appears that Kone is a lot less susceptible to injury like Saha was. From the viewpoint of a lot of Everton fans, they feel signing a 29-year old is a step in the wrong direction, and believe that bringing in someone who is more youthful would have been a better option.
However, Kone at 29 has a wealth of experience. He contributed 11 goals to Wigan’s league campaign which unfortunately left relegated, although he shone in a good attacking side that were very shaky in defence. For the price, a younger striker probably wouldn’t have been available or realistic in terms of wages for Everton, who have continually done well on a smaller transfer and wage budget compared to the other sides around them in the Premier League table.
Kone’s signing all but looks to be followed by the free transfer of Wigan centre-back Antolin Alcaraz who recently came out of contract at the Latics. The 30 year-old Paraguayan is an established ball-playing centre-half who is competent within Roberto Martinez’s style of play. I believe he has been signed as backup for Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin; what could be on the cards however is that Johnny Heitinga is likely to leave, but if he is to stay, having four experienced centre-backs would be ideal for the Toffees. Youngster Shane Duffy is a promising player but he hasn’t had a fair crack in the Premier League yet and is lacking experience. But, I believe Martinez will utilise youth players much more expressively compared to his predecessor David Moyes. I can see Ross Barkley, John Stones and George Green having bright futures at the club.
It seems as though Martinez will also raid Atletico Madrid for his former Wigan loanee Joel Robles too. Joel, 23, is likely to become Everton’s backup keeper after Slovakian fan favourite Jan Mucha left the club at the end of his contract. Joel showed his passion for Wigan during his time there, crying at the end of a 4-1 drubbing by Arsenal which resulted in Wigan ultimately being relegated. Joel is youthful and looked good throughout his playing time at the DW stadium, helping Wigan during their successful FA Cup win also. It is inevitable he will provide competition for Tim Howard. Howard, 34 isn’t getting any younger and so could see the emergence of Joel at Everton within a few years providing the deal is finalised.
Overall, Roberto Martinez may not be signing Wigan’s brightest talents but with money being a persistent problem at Everton, it is unlikely he could break the bank to get £10m rated Irish midfielder James McCarthy or former Everton youth player Callum McManaman. Should Marouane Fellaini leave for the touted £22m fee however, then transfer budget could be allocated to Martinez to allow him to sign even more players, tenacious tough tackling midfielder Mohamed Diame could be top of his list to replace Fellaini, who he also coached at Wigan. However, I am sure Martinez’s scouting knowledge isn’t just restricted to his former players and he will look further afield to strengthen Everton’s squad.