On the pitch, it’s been an impressive season for Everton. The Toffees have finally grown into that classy style of football that Roberto Martinez has pursued since his arrival. Romelu Lukaku can’t stop scoring, Gerard Deulofeu has matured into a creative machine, Ross Barkley is finally living up to expectations and the club has kept hold of superb centre-back John Stones.
However, where are our points? We currently sit ninth in the table with 26 points, and the eight draws that the Toffees have managed is more the joint highest in the Premier League. Careless, late goals have been conceded and arguably, at least four of those stalemates should have ended with a Blues’ win.
Here are three summer free-agents that Roberto Martinez and the Toffees’ board need to look at in order to ensure that this changes during the January transfer market?
1. Charlie Austin
Yes, Romelu Lukaku is brilliant. However, offers will come in for the Belgian in January. I sincerely hope that the club does enough to keep the talisman but we have been known to roll over and sell our big talents in the past. Even if the striker’s services are kept for another season or two he could still pick up an injury and leave Martinez’s side short of attacking options.
Charlie Austin is the perfect solution. The Englishman is still plying his trade for Championship outfit QPR but is most certainly Premier League level. He netted 18 times in the 2014/15 season, proving his capabilities in the English top flight. Austin’s contract is up in the summer and even though he has stated his intent to stay at Loftus Road until the end of the season the club may be tempted to cash-in on their star. In spite of the 26-year-old struggling with injury this term, has attracted a lot of attention from the likes of Newcastle and Southampton but, in my opinion, if the Blues go in with a firm enough offer can lure him away from QPR and be first to his signature.
Austin would provide a classy rotation option for Lukaku which would allow Martinez to rest the former more latter and lower the likelihood of an injury. However, if the current Toffees’ man was sidelined for a long period, Austin has all the necessary skills to fill his role for an extended period of time.
2. Steve Mandana
Many Evertonians have become fed up with Tim Howard’s inability to control his penalty area. Indeed, 40% of Everton’s shots conceded this term have come from set plays and that is simply not good enough. Personally, I think the American deserves to keep his starting role at least until the end of the season. However, the Toffees need to line up a replacement.
Marseille’s want-away keeper Steve Mandana is a very good option. The Frenchman is six years younger than Howard and just hitting his prime. Renowned for his reflexes and eccentric saves, the shot-stopper could be available at a cut-price given his contract and prove to be a canny buy.
3. Sam Byram
Everton has become a club famed for its attacking full-backs. Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines have cemented their names as first-rate defenders and the likes of Brendan Galloway and Luke Garbutt are working their way up through the youth system.
Leeds United’s Sam Byram would fit perfectly at the club. The youngster has refused contract talks at Leeds which has put a host of potential suitors on alert, including rivals Liverpool.
Despite starting his career as a right-back he now plays more as a winger. This versatility makes him a must-buy this January. The 22-year old, who has such a wide-range of abilities, offensively and defensively, is something special. I believe that at Everton, Byram would hone his skills and mature into a top Premier League player.