It is fair to say that this summer’s transfer window activity has been a little slow to get off the ground thankfully the pace is picking up somewhat with big money moves now either being completed or very much on the horizon. That said there is one club that has been ahead of the curve during the off season and that is none other than Everton.
Ronald Koeman has now been at the Goodison Park helm for just over a year now and it looks as if the transfer warchest that was promised to him 12 months ago is now finally being unleashed as Everton have already added a quintet of players to their ranks for a fee of around £85m or so.
And it looks like that may not be the last of the spending by the former Dutch international as the Merseyside club have been repeatedly linked with Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, a move that should it come to fruition would see Everton having to fork out another £35m or so.
That would take the spending for this summer to way over £100m and with that in mind the obvious question that has to be raised is whether or not Everton can bridge the gap to the teams above them and be a part of the top six next season.
The business that has been and could still yet be completed means it is very exciting times for Everton but it does also raise another pertinent question, that being – do the club simply have to spend this much just to tread water with the six clubs above them.
After an impressive debut season in charge of the club for Ronald Koeman it showed a quick reversal of fortunes from the last few months of Roberto Martinez’ stint at the helm as Everton eventually finished 7th in the Premier League and had it not been for defeats against Liverpool and Manchester United in the season they themselves could have finished in the top six.
But a club like Everton know that they cannot afford to rest on their laurels and if they do want to close the gap even further on the teams above them then they need to bring in a fresh wave of players this summer to try and kick on to the next level.
And that is exactly what they have done with the signings of Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Davy Klassen, here is a trio of ready made and more importantly young talented players who will without question be able to enhance Ronald Koeman’s starting eleven.
That is also not to discount Sandro Ramirez who joined from Malaga but you get the feeling that in this particular area of the pitch it may be seen as something of a drop off because it looks as if Romelu Lukaku is finally set to depart the club.
Whether it is Manchester United who have already had a £75m bid for the Belgian forward already accepted or Premier League champions Chelsea hijack the move with a concrete offer remains to be seen but here is the one area of the pitch that would not only be difficult to improve but now ultimately replace.
If you were to ask the opening question as to whether Everton can finish in the top six next season then with Lukaku among their ranks then the answer would probably be yes – although who misses out of that equation is something I could not answer.
But without their talismanic forward then their chances of finishing higher than 7th have diminished by a large amount. That probably does not make for good reading but instead of the glass being half empty then perhaps the glass can be half full.
That is because of instead of their being a select group of six clubs the simple thing would be just to extend the group of elite clubs to seven and when you look at the final Premier League table from last season then it arguably makes perfect sense.
You can easily draw a line that splits the league from positions 1 to 7 and then 8 down to 20. You only have to look at the absolute chasm in points between Everton in 7th and Southampton to 8th to see just how stark the contrast really is
At the end of the campaign Everton finished 15 points clear of what was then Claude Puel’s side as Southampton finished closer to the relegation zone than they did the Merseysiders. That is quite a damning statistic and one that played a large part in the Frenchman losing his job at St Mary’s.
It’s also symptomatic of how we talk about the top tier of clubs in this country, in the previous decade we used to solely speak about the top four but by the turn of 2010 and for the last few years the likes of Tottenhan and Manchester City have kicked the door down and made the top four the top six and now Everton could very well change the terminology once again.
Whether this bodes well for the rest of the league remains to be seen because the last thing we need is a two tier top division but that is not something that Everton should be punished for they should be applauded for using their imitative and making large strides in a short space of time.
So in answer to the original question will they make the top six at the end of next season – With the departure of Romelu Lukaku I doubt it, but with the landscape of the league right now they may well be able to find room at the top table anyway.