After a season of apathy at Goodison Park last year which saw Ronald Koeman sacked and, against many Everton fans’ wishes, Sam Allardyce come in to ‘steady the ship’, Marco Silva now has the reigns on the blue half of Merseyside.
Silva has only managed to secure one signing in the window so far, that of exciting Brazilian winger Richarlison from Watford.
However, with some worrying defensive displays so far in pre-season, and a backline with an average age that is reminiscent to that of a nursing home, Silva will be keen to bring in some more reinforcements.
One man whose name seems to be destined for Everton is Barcelona’s French left-back, Lucas Digne.
The ex-PSG man has left Barcelona’s pre-season training camp in California to finalise a move away from the club, with Everton the main name to be talked up for his signature.
Digne’s Barcelona teammate and Colombian centre-back, Yerry Mina, is another name being heavily linked with the Toffees as Silva looks to plug some holes in that leaky Everton defence.
Here are the different ways Everton could line up next season if they secure those two targets – as well as one if it all goes wrong and they get left with the squad they currently have.
Everton 2018/19 line-up No.1: The dream situation
Marco Silva’s preferred system is an attacking 4-2-3-1, based on keeping the ball for extended periods of time.
In this variation, Everton have secured the much-needed signings of Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina to shore up their defence. Michael Keane had an unconvincing first season at Everton but is expected to keep his starting place this term and will be looking for an improvement in his game – a better quality partner in Mina may bring the best out of him. Seamus Coleman has returned from his broken leg as if he had never been away and will continue to cause havoc down the right.
In midfield, much is expected of Tom Davies this year after a bright start to his career faltered slightly last season. Despite the below-average showing last term, many Evertonians still see him as the preferred option to Morgan Schneiderlin and will likely be the box-to-box option. Idrissa Gueye will use his seemingly limitless stores of energy to protect Everton’s back-four, as well as covering for any forward runs that Davies makes.
With Wayne Rooney’s departure for MLS, space has finally opened up for Gylfi Sigurdsson in the number 10 role. Given his success for Swansea in the Premier League, many Evertonians wanted the Icelandic international played there last season and will be happy to see his creativity allowed to flourish.
Richarlison won more fouls (95) than any other player in the 2017/18 Premier League season.
A real handful to deal with. 😈 pic.twitter.com/UU8C3ZXSjJ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 22, 2018
There is much clamour on Merseyside for young English winger, Ademola Lookman. However, given the fee spent on Richarlison, and his promising performances in pre-season so far, as well as the experience of Theo Walcott, Lookman is expected to make his impact from the bench – unless a reported move to RB Leipzig goes through.
Cenk Tosun scored five goals following his £27m move from Besiktas in January. The Turkish international seemed to adapt very well to life in the Premier League and is expected to be Everton’s main goal threat again this season.
Everton 2018/19 line-up No.2: New formation
Should Silva decide to maximise his possession-based style of play, as well as add another layer of solidarity to the Everton defence, he could also try a 5-2-1-2 formation.
Ideally, Mina and Keane would remain in defence but would be joined by Mason Holgate to make a trio. Holgate is young, fast, good on the ball and not scared to make a challenge. He still has a lot to learn in terms of his positioning and reading of the game but is already an accomplished Premier League defender.
#SquawkaScout: Yerry Mina 💃
☑️ Aerial powerhouse
☑️ Dancing feet
Interested clubs: practically everyone. pic.twitter.com/gtMrtYYoEt
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 26, 2018
Attacking full-backs are vital in this system and will provide most of the width. In Coleman, Everton have one of the best options in the Premier League on the right-hand side. This system will be even more suited to Everton if they could secure the signing of Digne – there is no doubting Leighton Baines’ footballing ability but the 25-year-old Digne stands a much better chance of being able to carry out both jobs on the left for 90 minutes.
With only two players in an out-and-out central midfield position, Marco Silva would likely opt for Schneiderlin to partner Gueye. Following a promising start when he joined Everton in January 2017, Schneiderlin had a less-than-impressive first full season with the Toffees last campaign. However, he does have a lot more defensive discipline than Davies and, when on top form, has a great eye for a pass.
Sigurdsson would again play the number 10 role as Everton’s main creative outlet, but he would have an extra target for his wonderful right foot as Richarlison would partner Tosun. Tosun would be the out-and-out striker charged with poaching goals, while Richarlison would drop deeper to pick the ball up and run at opposition defences.
Silva doesn’t often deviate from his preferred 4-2-3-1 but if he felt the need try something different, this system would suit a lot of Everton’s players.
Everton 2018/19 line-up No.3: The disaster
Unlikely, but Jordan Pickford has been linked with the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid since his heroic showing for England at the World Cup this Summer. Joel Robles has already left Everton and, if Pickford were to leave, Everton would be very short on time to give Martin Stekelenburg some competition, the ex-Dutch international would be left as the first choice in goal.
Lucas Digne seems to be nailed on to join Everton, Yerry Mina looks to be just behind him in the entrance queue. However, ask even the most die-hard Evertonian and they will tell you to never trust an Everton transfer rumour until the player is wearing the royal blue shirt.
If the worst was to happen and Everton don’t secure any more signings, Silva would likely field an experienced defence and hope that is enough to see him through to the January window. 33-year-old Leighton Baines would keep his spot at left-back and 35-year-old Phil Jagielka would remain at the heart of the Everton defence – including Stekelenburg, this back-five have conceded seven goals in Everton’s last two friendlies.
Sandro Ramirez and Kevin Mirallas have had surprisingly positive pre-seasons after returning from loan moves at Sevilla and Olympiakos respectively. Richarlison and Walcott would be first choice when fit but, if this disaster continued to unfold and either were to pick up an injury, Everton’s forgotten men could get their chance to step up.
The midfield and attack would largely remain the same, although the attackers will be left with a lot more pressure on them to find the goals as Everton would likely be leaking at the other end. Silva would also opt for the conservative duo of Schneiderlin and Gueye to help with damage limitation at the back.
Everton 2018/19 line-up No.4: The future is bright
Another unlikely scenario but, given the prolific success of Everton’s academy system, Silva could go all-out youth next season and field a team with an average age of just 21.3 years old.
Jordan Pickford, 24, would remain in goal, while Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina, who are 25 and 23 respectively would join Mason Holgate and Jonjoe Kenny, both 21, in a very talented back-line.
19-year-old Beni Baningime quietly impressed in his 11 appearances last season and would partner 20-year-old starlet Tom Daves in central midfield. Further forward, 20-year-old Kieran Dowell, who scored nine goals in 38 league games on loan at Nottingham Forest last season, would take up Sigurdsson’s role at number 10 and would be hoping to transfer that attacking threat onto the Premier League stage.
Richarlison, 21, keeps his place on the left in this vibrant, young Everton side. Meanwhile, the highly-rated Ademola Lookman would take up the right-wing spot – provided the 20-year-old doesn’t make his rumoured move to RB Leipzig.
Leading the line for this young side would be Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The 21-year-old managed eight goals in 44 games across all competitions for Everton last season as he led the line admirably in the absence of any experienced centre-forwards – until Cenk Tosun’s arrival in January. But, with another year of experience under his belt, the England youth international would be seeking a bigger goal haul this time around.