Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
When Everton moved to appoint Carlo Ancelotti as the club’s new manager in December 2019, there was optimism among the Goodison Park faithful that the Italian’s reputation and world-class pedigree would strengthen the Toffees’ transfer market pull.
After a period of tactical transition and squad scrutiny at the back end of the 2019/20 season, evidence of the club’s new clout in the market under Ancelotti started to surface over the summer, and on the eve of the new Premier League campaign, Everton are on the cusp of competing a hattrick of exciting signings.
In Carlo Ancelotti’s first major acquisitions as Everton’s head-honcho, the hugely experienced Italian coach has moved to pump new blood into the heart of the Toffees team, with three midfielders of contrasting styles on the verge of completing switches to the blue half of Merseyside.
Everton’s midfield makeover
With Morgan Schneiderlin moved on to Nice in his homeland, and other options like Andre Gomes, Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson failing to impress, Ancelotti and Everton’s ambitious recruitment drive promises to reshape the team’s soft centre.
Battle-hardened Brazilian anchorman Allan, looks set to arrive from Napoli pending the completion of a medical this week, bringing strength, steel and mobility to an Everton midfield that lacked energy far too often last term.
Allan averaged a whopping 3.8 tackles per 90 minutes in the Champions League for the Partenopei in 2019/20, and his elite club competition knowhow shouldn’t be lost in translation, even if it takes the 29-year-old time to learn the Scouse lingo.
Ahead of Allan, Everton will expect to deploy a new creative conduit in the shape of Colombian superstar James Rodriguez. The Real Madrid schemer is rumoured to have jumped at the chance to work with Ancelotti again, and his arrival at Goodison Park would represent a massive coup for the Toffees.
The innovative 29-year-old had proved his worth in Spain with Real and on loan with Bayern Munich in Germany before becoming a peripheral figure on his return to the Bernabeu last season, though it shouldn’t take him long to rediscover his best form in a lower-pressure environment.
In his final temporary campaign with the Bavarians in the Bundesliga, Rodriguez averaged 2.6 key passes per 90 minutes – a defence splitting figure none of his new counterparts at Everton came close to matching in 2019/20.
Everton are also locked in talks with Watford over a potential £20m deal for seasoned Premier league campaigner Abdoulaye Doucouré.
The 27-year-old Frenchman, who clocked up over 100 appearances in four seasons at Vicarage Road, will bring versatility, power and a highly-polished technical skillset to Goodison Park should Everton beat off competition from Monaco to wrangle him away from the Hornets.
How might Everton line up in 2020/21?
The addition of three high-quality midfielders, all armed with unique and differing attributes, to Everton’s team has the potential to have a transformative effect on the Toffees’ fortunes.
With England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, fellow Three Lions prospects Mason Holgate and Michael Keane and flying fullback pair Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne in tow, Everton already possessed a decent defensive platform to build on, though the deployment of Allan in front of that backline would offer the sort of extra protection they have sorely lacked.
Ahead of their own third, and with James Rodriguez best fielded as a number 10, Carlo Ancelotti could be tempted to switch from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation in an attempt to extract optimal creativity from this new Colombian game-changer.
In either of the latter two set-ups, the adaptable Abdoulaye Doucouré would also find a role with comfort, while key attacking duo Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin would have room to operate further forward.
Alexi Iwobi, Bernard and Theo Walcott offer Ancelotti a clutch of interesting options for any of the spaces left vacant, and all three wide midfielders are flexible enough to be unleashed from either flank.
If Everton succeed in getting their stellar looking signings over the line, their team will have metamorphosised from flimsy to formidable with a splash of contract ink, potentially setting them up for a continental qualification charge in the 2020/21 Premier League season.
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