Everton have new transfer priority after deadline passes and next strategy begins

LUTON, ENGLAND - MAY 03: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (R) celebrates his goal during the Premier League match between Luton Town and Everton FC at Kenilworth Road on May 03, 2024 in Luton, England. (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Everton have overcome the first major challenge of the summer after reaching the end of the football financial year without selling a key asset.

The club strengthened its position in relation to Premier League spending rules through the sales of Lewis Dobbin and Ben Godfrey, savvy deals that brought in crucial funds ahead of the June 30 deadline for compliance.

Profit and Sustainability Regulations (PSR) will still have an impact on the club’s summer strategy with the new financial year also set to be a test for the club’s finances. But a platform has been laid to improve the squad that will take Everton through its final 12 months at Goodison Park.

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Key to that strong foundation has been pragmatic work to consolidate on the squad that would have taken Everton to the cusp of the top half of the table last season, had the club not been deducted eight points across two PSR breaches.

Seamus Coleman and Ashley Young have signed new deals and a clause in Idrissa Gueye’s contract was triggered to retain his services for another 12 months. Those moves mean Sean Dyche will keep a core of experienced players that have his trust and who will play an important role in the dressing room and at Finch Farm, as well as on the pitch. Securing the return on loan of Jack Harrison from Leeds United is a further boost with the wide man another player who has earned Dyche’s faith following his success at the club last season. Tim Iroegbunam has limited Premier League experience but the 20-year-old midfielder is a useful acquisition who will provide support in an area that had been weakened by the departures of Andre Gomes and Lewis Warrington. They were among the out-of-contract players who formally left Everton on Sunday. Young, talented and with the potential to develop, Iroegbunam fits the profile of player identified as being central to director of football Kevin Thelwell’s preferred strategy to build a stronger club in a sustainable fashion.

Thelwell is expected to boost Everton’s attacking options with the club on the brink of a deal for Marseille forward Iliman Ndiaye. The 24-year-old has long been of interest to Everton and is most adept in the support striker role. Should he occupy that role he would give Dyche the opportunity to drop Abdoulaye Doucoure deeper into midfield to provide additional support in the middle.

While Harrison is a welcome addition, the sale of Dobbin to Villa means Dyche has only the 27-year-old and Dwight McNeil as natural wide players to call upon. Work to add depth - and where possible pace - in this area is well underway. It is clearly a priority with Everton having discussed the possibility of teen winger Yankuba Minteh moving to Merseyside in the event his club Newcastle United struck a deal with Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The north east club’s valuation of the 19-year-old, who excelled at Feyenoord last season, meant Everton’s chances of adding him to the squad diminished when Newcastle walked away from Calvert-Lewin talks last week. Brighton and Hove Albion have since agreed a deal for Minteh. Hull City starlet Jaden Philogene is another winger Everton are monitoring and the club will take hope from the comments of the club’s owner that he is unlikely to stand in the way of his young stars - which include another potential Blues target, Jacob Greaves - should suitable offers be made by Premier League clubs. Question marks remain over the right back position, with Godfrey having departed for Atalanta in a move believed to have been worth an initial £11m. The 26-year-old covered in that position in the second half of the season and with Nathan Patterson and Seamus Coleman both suffering repeated injury misfortune, and Young also likely to be required to cover on the left - with first choice defender Vitalii Mykolenko having now picked up three injuries in two months - the battle to be Coleman’s long-term successor is still alive. With money likely to remain tight over the coming months one option could be Ben Johnson, who was released by West Ham United on Sunday. One boost Dyche would appreciate is clarity over his squad heading into his notorious pre-season regime. The manager had to contend with a host of late departures after the season began last August and this summer would be keen to have plenty of time to plot his approach to the new campaign.

How the rest of the transfer window unfolds will partly hinge upon the interest generated in Everton’s biggest stars. The club fended off an initial bid from Manchester United for Jarrad Branthwaite but serious interest is understood to remain. With the opening offer of £35m plus a further £8m in add-ons rejected as unacceptable, any further talks will be about reputation as much as anything. Everton are keen to keep their star and certainly do not want to be bullied into the sale of one of Europe’s most promising defenders while under new part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Manchester United claim they will not pay premium prices. The club may have lost any headstart it had on rivals for Branthwaite, however, with the new financial year providing fresh life to transfer strategies of several clubs that have been cautious until now. One of those is Arsenal, who have a long-held interest in Amadou Onana. It would take at least £50m for Everton to consider negotiations over the Belgium international, who also has admirers elsewhere including at Bayern Munich, where Belgium legend Vincent Kompany is the new manager.

Perhaps the most pressing issue for Everton to deal with is now the future of Calvert-Lewin. The striker is yet to sign new terms offered to him and is now in the final 12 months of his contract and so this summer represents the final opportunity for the club to earn serious money through his sale. Everton will need to work hard to comply with PSR in this new financial year, so a big sale on terms the club is happy with would hold genuine value. But any sale of Calvert-Lewin is loaded with risk given Dyche’s tactics are built around his availability and that Everton will struggle to replace his experience and quality with the resources at the club’s disposal this summer.