After weeks and weeks of speculation, rumors, and false starts, it looks like Everton are finally getting their man. According to the BBC, the Toffees have agreed to a £45 million fee for Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson. So now what?
Everton have had an interesting summer. They’ve spent like crazy, having brought in seven new first-team players, including Sigurdsson. A team that spends that much, particularly one that goes out and spends £45 million on one guy, is usually looking to make a leap into the next tier of its league. Everton are a bit of a unique case, though, given that all this money has been spent to fill holes left by the departure of Romelu Lukaku, perhaps the best striker in England, and the soon-to-be-departed Ross Barkley, a probably overrated player who nevertheless has been a key fixture in the lineup.
For most of the summer, it wasn’t hard to see what manager Ronald Koeman was after: an improved defense (Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford), and enough scorers to patch together the 25 goals Lukaku took with him (Davy Klaassen, Wayne Rooney, Sandro Ramirez). All that was missing, then, was the kind of creative midfield player that Barkley (theoretically) is, one capable of supplying all those new scorers with chances.
On the surface, Sigurdsson seems to scratch that itch. He finished last season with nine goals and 13 assists in 38 appearances. Eight of those assists came from set-pieces, though, and 38 of the chances he created last season came from corner kicks. When you zero in on just the chances Sigurdsson created from open play last season, he suddenly looks a lot less like the creative playmaker Everton are in need of:
So, Sigurdsson profiles as an attacking midfielder who can get himself a goal when needed and excels at picking out target men with crosses from set-pieces. There’s nothing wrong with a player like that, but Everton already have two second striker-types in Klaassen and Rooney, and not much in the way of a target man.
At Swansea, Sigurdsson had the 6-foot-5 Fernando Llorente to fire his crosses at, but as Everton are currently constituted he’ll be trying to pick out Wayne Rooney, Sandro Ramirez, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the box, all of whom are 5-foot-9.
The transfer window isn’t closed, of course, and it’s entirely possible that Everton still have a big striker on their transfer wish list. There have been rumors about a move for Olivier Giroud, Christian Benteke, or even Danny Welbeck, but so far none of those seem all that close to happening. Unless a player like that is brought in before the window closes, it’s hard to see how Sigurdsson fits into the side or provides anything Everton don’t already have.
That’s a strange thing to say about a player that costs £45 million, but such is life in the post-TV money era of EPL inflation. For a price that used to fetch a season-altering star player, Everton have acquired a guy who, unless another move is made soon, may very well end up spending the season doing little more than whipping useless crosses into the box.