Advertisement

Record deal, transfers, takeover - Everything that has happened this summer as Everton stars return

Seven weeks on from Michael Oliver blowing to end Everton’s season in a mess of controversy, the players are back at Finch Farm to prepare for a new campaign.

The Blues started arriving at the training ground from 8am with club captain Seamus Coleman the first through the door ahead of a day of fitness checks.

For most of the squad it marks the end of their summer holiday. A lot has happened since Oliver decided Arsenal’s late winner should not be ruled out for handball in the final game of last season. Here is an overview of a busier-than-normal close season for Everton.

READ MORE: Everton agree final Goodison Park friendly as Dan Friedkin role clarified

READ MORE: Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Man United slammed over Jarrad Branthwaite transfer as Everton stance revealed

New, new owners on the radar

The contentious 2-1 defeat at the Emirates was not the most dramatic experience of Everton’s May. That was instead reserved for a few days later when the deal that could have seen 777 Partners take control at Goodison officially came to an end. A process that started with ambitious proclamations the previous September and which saw the US investment group pump almost £200m into the club looked destined to unravel for weeks before it did as the group became swamped in litigation and financial issues, all while failing to get its deal signed off by the Premier League.

The expiration of its share purchase agreement with Blues majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri allowed new bidders to enter the fray. From a complex web of rival bids and vested interests it was another US outfit, the Friedkin Group, that emerged in pole position. That group, owned by Texas billionaire Dan Friedkin, who also owns Roma, is now conducting due diligence on the club as it uses its own exclusivity period to explore a potential takeover.

Contracts closed and deals renewed

Four players who made the bench for that season finale at Arsenal are no longer with the club - two because their contracts expired at the end of June. Academy graduates Lewis Warrington and Mackenzie Hunt have now left, with Hunt agreeing a deal with League Two side Fleetwood Town. Other first team squad players who have left following the end of their contracts include Andy Lonergan, who has moved to a player/coach role at Wigan Athletic, and Andre Gomes.

Gomes wrote a heartfelt message to Blues supporters upon confirmation of his exit, the 30-year-old stating: “My time with the blue shirt came to an end. But I have to tell you how proud I am for all these years. This club is full of history, with big moments, but also with difficult situations that should make us learn from that. But both situations have one thing in common: your passion for this wonderful football club.

“The love, the relentless fighting spirit, the hard work. For me, there is another word that defines how special you are: Family. Going through ups and downs, emotions and amazing atmospheres, you never gave up on us. You never give up on the person next to you, and that is what community is all about. There are no words to describe the impact you have on helping others. I am very fortunate and thankful for all the experiences and moments we shared together.”

While those players have now left, Ashley Young, Idrissa Gueye and Coleman will all be part of Sean Dyche’s plans this season. The club activated a clause in Gueye’s contract to keep him on Merseyside for a further year while Young and Coleman have both signed 12 month extensions.

Departures and new faces

The other two players who were on the bench at Arsenal but have since departed are Lewis Dobbin and Ben Godfrey. The pair each secured moves in June, with Dobbin sold to Aston Villa and Godfrey to Italian side Atalanta in deals worth a combined £21m. Those fees have been a source of confidence inside Everton that the club was able to comply with league spending regulations for the first time in three years - and thus avoid another points deduction.

Meanwhile, work to rebuild the squad has also been undertaken. Midfielder Tim Iroegbunam has been signed from Villa and forward Iliman Ndiaye added from Marseille. The return of Jack Harrison on loan from Leeds United is a further boost. The first team will likely see academy players supplement the training squad over the coming weeks and that may well mean Omari Benjamin, the 18-year-old former Arsenal striker who joined the academy last week, could get exposure to Dyche’s training methods. Benjamin is one of a series of young starlets who have either signed new deals at the club or been added to its youth ranks as part of efforts to improve the academy this summer.

Any outstanding business?

One of the key issues facing Dyche and director of football Kevin Thelwell right now is the future of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The importance of the striker to the club cannot be exaggerated and he has been offered a new deal. But with less than 12 months on his current contract, his future remains in the air and Newcastle United have already shown their hand by inquiring for him. Resolving that situation will be crucial. Jarrad Branthwaite and Amadou Onana are both attracting interest and will be the subject of inquiries this summer, while Everton are continuing to make moves themselves with adding to Dyche’s options out wide seen as crucial - hence the interest shown in Newcastle’s Yankuba Minteh and Hull City’s Jaden Philogene.

Pre-season plans

Work will take place at Finch Farm this week, starting with fitness and health assessments for those who have not been given an extended break due to international duty. The squad will fly to Ireland next week for a training camp that will end in a poignant friendly with Coleman’s first club, Sligo Rovers. Trips to Salford City, Coventry City and Preston North End are already scheduled, while a home friendly before the start of the campaign will see Roma visit Goodison Park.

New kit deal in place

As the images start to come out from Everton’s training plans we might start to get glimpses of Everton’s new training gear. The club has signed a deal with kit manufacturer Castore that will also see the Wirral-founded sportswear giant take up a position as one of the founding partners of the club’s move to the Liverpool waterfront. Iroegbunam and Ndiaye have been wearing Castore training tops in their signing pictures but the new wardrobe should be revealed in greater detail over the coming days.