Can a beefed-up Everton offer a title challenge?

Wayne Rooney is not the only former Red Devils star the Everton has signed this season. The 25-year old Burnley defender Michael Keane, who started his career with Manchester United, and was reported to be a target for Mourinho, has also made his way to Everton.

Written by Karan Prashant Saxena | Updated: July 12, 2017 8:21:09 pm
wayne rooney, wayne rooney everton, wayne rooney manchester united, football news, sports news, indian express Wayne Rooney will once again wear the blue of Everton after adorning the red of Manchester United for 13 years. (Source: Reuters)

As Everton’ star striker Romelu Lukaku left Goodison Park to re-unite with his former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, the Toffees made bigger headlines by re-signing Manchester United great Wayne Rooney after a span of 13 years. In one of dream returns, the 32-year old left United for a chance to play first-team football and re-signed for Everton.

Talking about return to his boyhood club, an “ecstatic” Rooney said he believes manager Ronald Koeman is building a team that can win trophies. “I have come back to Everton because I believe Ronald Koeman is building a team that can win something. I look forward to playing my part in making that a reality for the club I have supported since a boy,” the former Manchester United Captain said at a presser.

Rooney’s faith in Koeman is far from fantasy. In the summer transfer window, Koeman, who joined as Everton manager only last year from Southampton, has made Merseyside the hottest destination. The side has packed itself with some explosive signings and looks keen to bring on more talent.

Rooney is not the only former Red Devils star the Everton has signed this season. The 25-year old Burnley defender Michael Keane, who started his career with Manchester United, and was reported to be a target for Mourinho, has also made his way to Everton. To assist Rooney in the midfield, who looks set to don the no. 10 shirt for Everton, the club has signed former Ajax Captain Davy Klaassen for a bargain price of £23.6m who will wear the number 20. Malaga’s young budding striker Sandro Ramirez, who scored 14 goals in 28 appearances last year in La Liga, is another optimistic signing up front for Everton.

But the pick of the season for The Toffees has been the £30.0m Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who has been impressive for a struggling club over past couple of years.

Clearly, the impressive business in transfer window made Rooney’s mind to finally make a return to the club where he started his career. It has certainly put rival clubs at unease. Former Everton legend Alan Stubbs, in an interview said, derby rivals Liverpool are getting jealous of Everton’s summer business. He might not be wrong. According to ESPN reports, Liverpool faithful are getting anxious about Everton’s spending spree, while the Scousers have only made one big signing in the form of Roma’s Mohammad Salah.

Koeman’s vision to take Everton to top four in the Premiere League has perhaps prompted the club to swindle big bucks for talented players. The side has faced financial crisis for many years, but the old days are gone and majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri is keen to challenge the established top-flight order in Premiere League.

“Everybody knows that there was one really big reason for me to sign one year ago for Everton. It was all about this project and I think the club is showing that ambition that everybody likes to have and they are really great, exciting times for Everton Football Club,” Koeman said in a recent interview.

In spite of the optimism shown by the club last season, Koeman struggled with his main striker Lukaku, who became frustrated with the club for lack of trophies and not having a depth of squad. After signing for United, Lukaku said, “I want to challenge for trophies and be in the dressing room with great players but also great characters. It is something that I wanted and it is going to help me to get better.”

Koeman knows he cannot afford to have another frustrated striker at his disposal and needs players with winning mentality in his squad. The manager is still going all out to sign Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud and Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, to further put the top clubs on notice. Leicester City’s Thomas Gray and Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke are also on Koeman’s radar.

The Everton manager has strategically targeted either top players from struggling clubs or players vying for first team opportunities. The strategy has certainly worked so far in his favour, with Rooney, Pickford and Keane, all signing for Everton.

With Gunners already signing Alexandre Lacazette, Giroud’s spot in the team looks questionable and he would not mind making a switch to Merseyside. In spite of Swansea trying their all to keep Sigurdsson in the squad by putting a £50 million price tag on him, the Welsh club may not stop the transfer from happening if the Iceland player wishes to move away from a club that was almost relegated the previous season.

The strength of Everton’s final squad still needs to be assessed with still over a month left for the transfer window to shut down. But with promising business this summer, the side that ended at 7th position last season, just below Manchester United, may take a flight up to top of the table this season- and who knows, may end up writing another “Leicester City” style fairy tale by winning the Premiere League trophy.

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