Why Everton’s Decision To Not Adequately Replace Romelu Lukaku Could Come Back To Haunt Them This Season
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Everton have had a pretty successful summer transfer window this time around. Manager Ronald Koeman, backed by owner Farhad Moshiri have been able to strengthen the squad significantly over the past two months.
The Toffees got their business done pretty early in the window, capturing Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen from Sunderland and Ajax respectively, very early in the summer. They brought in promising young striker Henry Onyekuru from Belgian outfit KAS Eupen, before loaning him out to Belgian champions RSC Anderlecht in order to help him continue his growth.
Sandro Ramirez was signed from Malaga for a mere £5.2million fee, which is a great bargain in the current market, considering that the former Barcelona man had scored 16 goals in the previous campaign. Defensive reinforcement arrived in the form of Michael Keane from Burnley, staving off competition from several heavy-hitters. Cuco Martina was signed for free.
After that, Wayne Rooney’s homecoming from Manchester United was sealed, before the Toffees broke their transfer record to sign playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea City for a fee reported to be £45million. Their transfer business concluded on the deadline day with the signing of exciting midfielder Nikola Vlasic from Hajduk Split.
Of course, there were a number of exits from the Goodison Park as well, with a need to balance the books. But most of the investment was recouped in a single sale – the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United for a fee of £75million, which could rise up to £90million.
All that represents some really shrewd business by the Toffees. But, despite all the players that they have brought in, one thing that might come to haunt them is their failure to effectively replace Lukaku with another striker of a similar calibre.
In the past few years, the Belgian international has developed into one of the most lethal marksmen in the Premier League. Last season, the striker finished as the second-highest goal-scorer in the Premier League with 24 strikes to his name and played a huge role in Everton being able to finish in the seventh position. His loss, despite the money that was recouped, will hurt.
The Merseysiders have brought in Sandro and Rooney as their out and out strikers, but neither of the two carries the same level of threat the big and burly Belgian would bring to the table.
The Spaniard, Sandro, might be coming on the back of a strong season with Malaga in the La Liga, but he is very young and remains untested outside his homeland. It might take him some time to come to terms with the rigours of the Premier League. The 21-year old has made four appearances already this season, but is yet to score or assist a goal.
Rooney, on the other hand, has marked his return to the club with a couple of goals in the Premier League already. But given his declining form in the recent years and reduced goal-scoring output, he is hardly the man that Koeman can count on to deliver 20 plus goals.
This early into the season, they are already looking short of goals – the Toffees have scored just twice in three games in the Premier League, albeit they have faced Manchester City and Chelsea in two of those three outings. But, the fact they could not get big victories against the likes of Ruzomberok and Hajduk Split, two sides that they were expected to blow away easily, given their squad, in the UEFA Europa League qualifiers, will bother Koeman.
Given the ambition and intention that the club have shown this summer, it is clear that they intend to try and break into the top-six in the league, which is dominated by the bigwigs of England. But their failure to address the need of a prolific goal-scorer in the ranks could see them fall short of their desired finish. Everton surely have a very strong squad, that is very much likely to finish as the best of the rest outside the top-six, but not replacing Lukaku with another striker could come back to haunt them later in the season.