Much like many a season before it, the second half of 2019/20 has been about nothing but time for Everton, and the countdown to another summer transfer window.
Widespread expectation of an ‘exorcism’ remains ever-present at Goodison Park, with most asserting that the midfield will be the focal point for such an exercise.
The likely subjects hardly need mentioning – every Evertonian around knows who they are. However, a solution to fill the hole that will likely be left by Gylfi Sigurdsson is now the pressing issue – not so much finding a mythical ‘world class’ striker, as was the case circa two years ago.
The incomplete nature of the Toffees’ nucleus is a particular issue when faced with the usual expected top-six teams, who will always be considered the stronger side when facing Everton, regardless of form. Yet, as seen by Andre Gomes’ performances since returning from injury, particularly during yet another frustrating defeat (to Arsenal) at the home of a ‘top-six’ team, Everton are close to having a truly formidably midfield when fit.
Jack Grealish, though most closely linked to Manchester United in the event of Villa’s relegation, has split opinion of Everton fans, as a man within Farhad Moshiri’s price range.
Gone, undoubtedly, is the foolish boy that engaged in unsavoury off-field activity, during a 2015/16 season in which he desperately needed guidance from Villa elders. There was none to be had amidst a joke of a managerial regime, but of those that sunk with the Villans back in 2016, Grealish was amongst few that remained loyal. Such character was without doubt collectively lacking in Everton’s midfield during Gomes’ absence, and were reflected in his 2018/19 stats:
Grealish’s stats – as they stood ahead of the Carabao Cup Final – are impressive in a diverse number of ways. Arguably most prominent is the fact that he entered the cup final weekend having made the joint-second highest tally of Premier League assists among English players, with his tally bettered only by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Most Evertonians would likely welcome Grealish readily, especially if it denies either of the north-west’s red giants his services. The price, naturally, would depend on Villa’s Premier League status – or lack thereof – come the summer. So too could any Euro 2020 involvement, with Grealish among the borderline contenders for inclusion.
As of March 2020, Transfermarkt values Grealish at £31.5m, giving the powers at Everton a perfect battleground for debate. Long-term ‘investments’ for a similar price are risky, but such is the nature of the modern game.
Yet, with players that transferred from Everton’s perceived ‘inferiors’ – such as Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford and Richarlison still not without their critics, Everton have more reason than most to treat the Grealish option with caution for the time being.
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