Wayne Rooney returned to Everton after a 13-year spell with Manchester United where he enjoyed great success, winning every major domestic honour.
Although Rooney became United’s and England’s all-time leading goalscorer, his form dipped over the past two seasons, culminating in his exit from Old Trafford.
The Toffees signed the 31-year- old on a free transfer following the departure of Romelu Lukaku, with Rooney one of the players charged with replacing the Belgian’s production on the field. Everton have been active in the transfer market, using the cash from the Lukaku deal to bolster other areas of their squad. As a result, Ronald Koeman and his men will be aiming to break into the elite teams in the Premier League, and they could be one of the best outside bets to finish in the top four, with odds of 9/1 to achieve the feat.
Lukaku was Everton’s best player last term, notching 25 goals even after a slow start to the campaign. His prowess in front of the net will be missed greatly by the Toffees, despite the signings of Sandro Ramirez and Rooney along with any further business the club perform. Rooney’s arrival could be a wildcard, as although his 20-goal seasons are behind him, his experience and quality in the final third will be extremely useful to his youthful team-mates.
However, one aspect of his play that he must not bring to Goodison Park is his propensity to drop deep when playing in an advanced role. During his last two seasons at United, he slowly pulled further and further towards the middle of the park and was eventually moved back into central areas by Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.
If the 31-year- old is playing just off the lone frontman, which is likely to be Sandro, he cannot leave his team-mate isolated in search of the ball.
When Rooney is operating at the peak of his powers, he is a fine player to watch in possession, but when he’s off the boil he tends to lose his discipline in term of positioning and situational football.
He’s very effective in and around the box, and although he can display a good range of passing, he does not boast the quality of the elite playmakers in the Premier League, who are capable of picking out a pass from almost any area on the pitch.
Should Koeman opt to play Rooney just off Sandro, that relationship must hit the ground running. The veteran has not always thrived playing alongside another forward in a two-man attack, with the rare exception of Robin van Persie, where he was willing to take a backseat.
If they are able to form a partnership up front, then their styles, along with the pace of youngsters Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman, might combine well enough for the pair to score more between them than Lukaku did last term.
There is the potential for Everton to make a surge for the top four due to the improvements they have made to the backline and their midfield, but their push will hinge on their play in the final third.
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