Why aren’t Everton dipping their hands into the European bargain bucket?

After a conversation with Chris (@CJM1878) on twitter it got me thinking about the transfers Martinez has made compared to other transfers around Europe. In brief the conversation started with us discussing the recent transfer of Teemu Pukki from Schalke 04 to Celtic, it came to a shock for Chris as I told him that the 22 year old Finnish striker moved for 2.5 million euros. A massive steal? we both certainly felt like it was. The conversation then went onto Everton, our start to the season, Martinez and his signings.

It’s been a rather frustrating transfer window and start to the season for Everton. 3 points out of the first 3 leagues games is no disaster but considering we were on top for most parts of the first two games and being quite poor against Cardiff, it’s disappointing not to have at least 6 points on the board.  We are certainly winning the possession game but that means nothing if we can’t put the ball in the back of the next, something that showed not only in the three league games but also during the Capital One Cup match against League One side Stevenage. We are lacking a cutting edge up front and with Gibson’s absence it highlights just how poor our backup midfielders are.

Martinez has brought some okay signings but they have been rather disappointing, Deulofeu the exception after his display against Stevenage, also the fact he’s adjusting to a new league means we won’t see the best of him till later in the season. Kone was awful against the League One side and hasn’t shown us fans anything good yet. Robles is a young keeper who we won’t see the best of till Howard hangs up his boots or moves on. Alcaraz has been hit with an injury which is shame as we haven’t been able to see much of him, however it has meant we’ve seen more of John Stones who’s been given a chance to shine and he’s certainly doing it.

With the new boys failing to shine so far it does highlight the need to bring in a few more players. Everton have been linked with another Wigan player James McCarthy and Blackpool’s Tom Ince, both good players and both have great potential but both will cost money which will most likely see us miss out on them. It seems like Martinez is failing to look outside the north west. I’ve found it frustrating that a club such as ours are failing to bring in one or two bargain transfers considering our budget and the amount of bargains happening elsewhere. Another frustration has been the lack of signings from three leagues where there is quality and good potential bargains, Spain, Holland and Germany. Obviously there are plenty more countries out their that can offer good bargains on players but the three I mentioned I feel offer the best players who can easily adjust to life in the Premier League.

Cost Celtic 2.5 million euros.

Cost Celtic 2.5 million euros.

As I mentioned earlier Pukki has moved to Celtic for a small fee of 2.5 million euros, which in today’s market is nothing. He will be a good addition to the Celtic side and there isn’t much risk if he fails to deliver for them. Max Kruse is another player that has moved clubs this season for the small fee of 2.5 million euros, the 25 year old German made the switch from Freiburg to Gladbach after a very impressive season where he played a vital part in Freiburg’s success and was one of the best performers in the league, Kruse finished the season with 11 goals and 7 assists. Another cheap signing made this window was by Atletico Madrid as they brought in 21 year old Brazilian Leo Baptistao. His first full season for Rayo Vallecano finished with him scoring 7 goals and him topping the clubs assist chart with 6. Daniel Ginczek left Borussia Dortmund for Nuremburg for a reported fee of 1.5 million euros. The striker spent last season in Germany’s second tier and was very impressive, finishing the season second in the league scoring charts with 18 goals to his name. So far this season he’s already showing what a bargain he is by quickly becoming a vital part of the Nuremburg set up. Final example is Graziano Pelle who permanently moved to Feyenoord this season after a highly successful loan spell with the Rotterdam club last season, bagging himself 27 goals and setting up 6 goals in his 29 appearances.

Everton are still in need for a striker and although we haven’t been linked with any of the strikers I mentioned above, they are a good examples of players that have the ability to succeed at a high level and at Everton while also being quite low risk signings.

Moved to Atletico Madrid for 5 million euros.

Moved to Atletico Madrid for 5 million euros.

Another key area that needs improving is in midfield, mainly in the centre. Gibson has suffered quite a few injuries at Everton and with him missing from games it does leave a big gap in the team. It doesn’t matter who fills his boots, they just don’t have the same impact as Gibson. Behind Gibson and Fellani in the centre we have Heitinga and Osman, both aging and aren’t hugely convincing. Osman had a great season last season but so far under Martinez he doesn’t look anywhere near the standard he provided us last campaign and a standard that earned him an England call up. One promising midfielder that went very cheaply this summer was Borussia Dortmund’s Leonardo Bittencourt, Hannover managed to negotiate a move worth 3 million euros. Bittencourt has a bright future and one I saw at Dortmund, so not only was it a surprise to see him leave the Champions League finalists but at that price it was a steal, even if there is a buy back clause.

Another area in midfield that could be looked at is our left midfield. Baines and Pienaar is arguably the best left sided partnership in the Premier League but when Pienaar isn’t performing, injured or suspended we aren’t as threatening.  One of the oldest bargains in this window was 32 year old Spanish winger Joaquin (who’s been linked with Everton before). The former Valencia man completed a 2 million euro move to Fiorentina this summer, although it would’ve been hard to attract him to the club he is another type of player we could have had a look at. Vaclav Pilar is another option we could have gone for, he’s cheap and a young option that slipped past a number of clubs. His impressive displays in the 2012 Euros for Czech Republic caught the attention of a lot of people. However the winger was snapped up by Wolfsburg for around 1 million euros, Pilar is currently on loan at Freiburg but after this season Wolfsburg may be willing to sell him cheaply depending on how he does during his time in the Black Forest.

Lastly I’d like to use another Bundesliga bargain that has happened. Marko Arnautovic has completed his move to Stoke City for the surprisingly low fee of just £2 million. The 24 year old is a brilliant talent who can play up top or on the wing, last season he was the key player for Werder Bremen along with Chelsea loanee Kevin De Bruyne. However with this talent he does come with his problems, he has a reputation for regularly being in trouble both on field and off it. Jose Mourinho once said Arnautovic was “a fantastic person but has the attitude of a child”. The Austrian had two incidents last season which highlighted his troubles, first up was his brawl with teammate Sokratis (now with Borussia Dortmund) back in March and then towards the end of the season he was suspended by the club along with teammate Elia as they were both caught speeding on a motorway. These troubles could be what led to such a cheap sale but despite his troubles he is a quality player and one I would’ve enjoyed watching in the royal blue jersey of Everton.

Time for Everton to look elsewhere?

Before  buying Bryan Oviedo and Kevin Mirallas in August last year, Everton hadn’t signed a player outside the British Isles on a permanent basis since Apostolos Vellios from Iraklis Thessaloniki back in January 2011. Everton have managed to sign a few bargains over the years within the British Isles, but with today’s market and the huge amount of money being demanded for young British talent, surely it’s time for us to start searching outside the Premier League, Championship and the SPL? We have been linked with a lot of names in other European leagues but nothing really happens.

James McCarthy is a good player and very promising but the rumored £15 million Wigan want for him could and should be spent elsewhere on two or three signings rather than just the one. Although I do like the fact Everton still put their trust in British players and continue to develop top youngsters, I do feel it’s time for us to dip our toes into the European pond more often then we currently are.

Article for footyscene.

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