Has Brands Done Good Business At Everton?

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Has Brands Done Good Business At Everton?

Despite criticism from some Evertonians, it’s undeniable that Marcel Brands has acquired some very able players since being appointed Director of Football in May 2018. But who is his best signing? And where could Brands be doing better?

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In the list, all of Everton’s permanent signings since Brands joined have been ranked from worst to best.

  1. Jonas Lossl- Free

The Danish goalkeeper is yet to be used since joining on a free transfer in the summer of 2019.

Now on loan at former club Huddersfield following a season which saw him rotate with Maarten Stekelenburg for the role as Jordan Pickford’s backup, fans had hoped a new goalkeeper could help to push Pickford, keeping him consistent, and ironing out mistakes.

With Lossl not playing, despite being available, and with Pickford having his worst season since joining Everton, this signing has clearly not worked.

9. Jean-Philippe Gbamin– £22m

Unfortunately, Gbamin suffered a long-term injury after just the second game of the season, and is yet to return. Everton have been crying out for a player who possesses the Ivorian’s abilities all season, with the midfield struggling with its structure, balance, and poorly performing personnel. Gbamin hasn’t been injury-prone throughout his career, and so it’s hard to criticise Brands for this. However, it could be argued that another defensive-midfielder could’ve been acquired so that Everton wouldn’t have to rely on players who aren’t good enough.

Brought in to replace Idrissa Gueye, Gbamin will be like a new signing for next season, and I look forward to see him playing again.

  1. Fabian Delph- £8m

Despite picking up plenty of injuries, Delph has still played a significant number of games this season. However, following his move from Manchester City, he’s so far only proven to be slightly better than other midfield options like Sigurdsson, Davies, and Schneiderlin. Furthermore, off-field antics involving a social media spat with supporters haven’t helped with the fans’ perception of the midfielder.

At just £8 million, Delph was always (financially) a low-risk signing. Following the Gbamin injury, he’s ended up playing more than fans would’ve expected. The fact that his role is regarded by fans as the number one priority for recruitment in the summer, is indicative of the fact that he’s yet to prove he’s at the level where Everton’s first team want to be. Having said this, Delph was probably never brought in to be the regular first teamer that he’s been this season, and should be a valuable squad player moving forward.

  1. Alex Iwobi- £28m

Iwobi’s season started excellently, with goals in wins against Lincoln and Wolves. However, since then, (much like most of the squad) he has struggled at times, and is yet to nail down a consistent starting place. This has led to criticism by fans; criticism that I view as harsh. The Nigerian still brings qualities that other Everton players don’t possess. In particular, his ability to progress with the ball, through both his passing and dribbling. When comparing Iwobi with other attacking midfielders and wingers, he’s more dynamic than Sigurdsson, and more physical than Bernard, despite still being creative. Additionally, he’s much smarter than Walcott in the final third.

Although a lot of money at £28 million, Iwobi is still just 23, and so will hopefully improve. The player has probably suffered from the lack of stability at the club this season (managerial changes, and injuries to himself and others) but should prove to be more impactful in the coming seasons.

  1. Moise Kean- £25m

Kean is primarily ranked so highly in this list because of his potential, and the fact that Brands even managed to acquire the highly-rated youngster. He’s yet to have much impact, but has only started a handful of games. When Everton struggle, it’s usually due to a lack of mobility and creativity in midfield. Kean is often used as a substitute when Everton need a goal, and cannot affect Everton’s midfield problems, and so can be isolated.

The 20 year-old Italian has already demonstrated signs of improvement, particularly when shining at home against Newcastle. With the flourishing partnership of Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin, there’s little reason to rush Kean’s development, and I look forward to seeing him gradually playing more and more over the next couple of seasons.

  1. Bernard- Free

Playing off the left-wing, Bernard’s close control and trickery makes him an entertaining player to watch. Due to his small frame, he clearly lacks physicality which can affect his performances. Having said this, he did impress last season. Bernard’s link-up play with Lucas Digne was key to much of the infrequent success that Everton experienced last season.

Since Ancelotti joined, he’s been more impressive when occupying a central role, and I always feel that Everton are better with him in the side. Evertonians will be hoping he can flourish individually in this new role, whilst reigniting his partnership with Digne, which has been absent for much of this season.

  1. Yerry Mina- £28m

Although arriving in the summer of 2018, Mina suffered with injuries, making just 13 league appearances. Many of these were from the bench as a result of struggling to replace either of the solid Zouma and Keane partnership in the 18/19 season. This season however, the big Columbian has arguably been Everton’s most consistent performer. Frequently producing quality performances, Mina has proven to be able to handle physical strikers comfortably, whilst also being relaxed on the ball.

Despite having a good season, the rumoured transfer of Gabriel could see Mina’s first team status being tested. Holgate continues to improve, and Mina has been rotated out in place of Keane a few times by Ancelotti.

  1. Lucas Digne- £18m

Everton’s best player last season would be even higher, but has been surprisingly poor on many occasions this season. The previously mentioned link-up play with Bernard last season was Everton’s greatest weapon. As if he was a midfield regista, almost all of Everton’s play seemed to go through Digne. His passing, crossing, and composure in possession are all great contributors to Everton’s wide-play. This season however, absences of Bernard, as well as poor team performances under Marco Silva haven’t helped Digne individually.

Regardless of the disappointing season, I don’t doubt Digne’s quality, and I don’t think there’s many better left-backs than the 26 year-old Frenchman.

  1. Andre Gomes- £22m

Gomes has proven to be a class above the rest of Everton’s midfield over the last two seasons. Following a great first season on loan, fans were desperate for the club to sign the Portuguese midfielder permanently. His calmness on the ball, combined with his physical strength, passing, and dribbling ability, made him one of the few guaranteed starters in the side. His second season has seen him side-lined after suffering a horror injury against Tottenham in November. His return to the team (against Arsenal) immediately highlighted his quality, and of how the team had missed his presence.

I expect the team as a whole to improve significantly next season, with a new midfield combination of Gomes alongside Gbamin and/or a new arrival.

  1. Richarlison£35m

Richarlison has now proven to be Everton’s best player after arriving from Watford for a heavily questioned, and sizable transfer fee. After proving his quality, his value is probably triple of the fee that Everton paid for the Brazilian forward. A near-complete attacking player, Richarlison combines the aerial ability of a quality target-man, with the control, dribbling, and pace of a classy winger. Along with this, his instinctive finishing has helped him to score 23 league goals over the last two seasons, despite being wasted out wide for most of this time.

This season, his strike partnership with Calvert-Lewin has developed into a potent force. Even when Richarlison doesn’t contribute much offensively, his aggression and unrivalled work rate have led to him tackling a higher number of times than most Premier League full-backs and defensive-midfielders. This work-rate, as well as his undeniable ability have led to him becoming a fans’ favourite amongst Evertonians.

At just 22, his ability should continue to increase, and so too will his price-tag. The young Brazilian is a huge asset for Everton.

Overall, I think Marcel Brands has recruited well since joining in the summer of 2018. The majority of Everton’s best players have been acquired under Brands’s reign, and at reasonable prices too. Any criticism should be more focused on him not buying certain players, and not offloading players who are no longer required. With regards to the players he’s bought, Brands has done well, particularly when comparing his signings with that of former Director Of Football, Steve Walsh.

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BILLY MINSHALL