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Under the management of David Moyes, Everton became a byword for overachievement. The Merseyside club consistently punched above their weight, memorably cracking the fabled top four and qualifying for the Champions League in 2005. Operating on a shoestring budget, Moyes often worked wonders in the transfer market, buying players such as Seamus Coleman for a pittance.
Moyes’ departure in 2013, coupled with the arrival of the wealthy Farhad Moshiri as majority shareholder in 2016, has signalled a change in the club’s transfer policy – and, as we’ll see, simply having more money to spend isn’t always a good thing.
Antolín Alcaraz (Free transfer)
One of four summer 2013 signings Roberto Martinez had previously worked with at Wigan Athletic, Alcaraz featured just ten times for the Latics in the league during their relegation season, but that didn’t stop the Toffees offering the Paraguayan international a two-year deal. Alcaraz didn’t make his debut until December and the centre-back featured in a Blue shirt just 21 times, struggling to dislodge Phil Jagielka and John Stones in a team that conceded 50 goals in 2014/15. Alcaraz was released shortly afterwards and currently plays back in his native South America.
The low point
Scoring a first-minute own goal as Champions League-chasing Everton crashed to a damaging 2-0 defeat at Southampton in April 2014.
Cuco Martina (Southampton, free)
Signed as cover at right-back for the injured Coleman, Curacao international Martina thought he was swapping one bench for another when Ronald Koeman brought him up to Merseyside in 2017. The former Twente defender had been on the fringes of the action at Southampton for two seasons but was soon pressed into action in an unfamiliar position at left-back. The results weren’t pretty: Everton were thrashed 5-1 at Arsenal and 4-0 at Spurs and Martina was shipped out on loan to Stoke, then Feyenoord as Everton spent big on defensive reinforcements.
The low point
Being turned inside out by Mohamed Salah at Anfield during a backs-to-the-wall 1-1 draw in December 2017.
Arouna Kone (Wigan Athletic, £6m)
An important figure at Wigan during their Cup-winning season, the Ivorian spent the majority of his first 18 months at Goodison out injured. Upon his return, he was consigned to playing second fiddle to Romelu Lukaku in Everton’s attack. Visibly out of his depth in a side looking to play more possession-orientated football, Kone scored just six goals in 47 league games during his four seasons with the Toffees. Half of those strikes came in one game: a 6-2 thrashing of Sunderland in 2015. Kone was released in 2017 and currently plays his football for Sivasspor in Turkey.
The low point
The knee cartilage injury which kept Kone on the sidelines for all but five games of Everton’s magnificent 2013/14 campaign.
Cenk Tosun (Besiktas, £27.5m)
A star of Besiktas’ successful Champions League group stage campaign, Tosun was meant to add firepower to an Everton side that had already been solidified under the gritty, pragmatic management of Sam Allardyce. After being eased into the side, Tosun struck four times in three games in March 2018, but then the goals dried up. The German-born Turkish international has netted just three times in 27 league games since, with new boy Richarlison usurping him in the Goodison pecking order this season.
Unsuited to Marco Silva’s counter-attacking style of football, Tosun was linked with a January move back to Besiktas – just 12 months after becoming the Turkish Super Lig’s record export.
Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace, £25m)
Another player whose spell at Goodison Park has been blighted by injury, Bolasie was the club’s second most expensive signing when he joined from Crystal Palace in the summer of 2016. A tricky winger, the Congo international enjoyed a solid if unspectacular start to his career on Merseyside, before a ruptured cruciate ligament suffered against Manchester United kept him out for over a year. Upon returning, it appeared that Bolasie had lost his extra yard of pace, and he struggled for game time after the signing of Theo Walcott. Currently on loan at Anderlecht, Bolasie’s Everton contract expires in June. He has played just 32 games for the Toffees.
The nasty injury against Manchester United that put paid to Bolasie’s Everton career before it had even begun.
Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United, £20m)
Schneiderlin struggled to adapt to the pressures of life at Old Trafford. But his signature must have seemed like a coup for Everton, particularly after an impressive debut showing as a substitute in a 4-0 demolition of Manchester City. Since a promising first few months at Goodison, though, the Frenchman has largely flattered to deceive. After struggling to stamp his authority on games under Ronald Koeman and then Sam Allardyce, Schneiderlin has fallen out of favour this campaign, with Marco Silva preferring to start Andre Gomes in midfield.
The red card – his second of the season – Schneiderlin picked up during Everton’s gutless 3-0 defeat to Lyon in the Europa League in November 2017.
Sandro Ramírez (Málaga CF, £5.2m)
Once a hot prospect at Barcelona, the signing of Ramirez was hailed as a coup after the striker hit 14 goals in 30 games for Malaga. It soon became apparent, however, that the Canary Islander was no replacement for Romelu Lukaku. Ramirez scored just once in seven starts in an Everton shirt and found himself shipped back to Spain on loan after just six months. He’s currently on loan at Real Sociedad after a temporary spell at Sevilla last season – incidentally, that strike for the Toffees, in a 5-1 home defeat to Atalanta in November 2017, is his last competitive goal.
Sam Allardyce’s appointment as Everton boss proved to be the end for Ramirez – the Spaniard featured for just 46 minutes under Big Sam before he was sent packing.
Ashley Williams (Swansea City, £9m)
A mainstay of Swansea’s backline for half a decade as the Welsh club established themselves in the Premier League, Williams also starred in Wales’ run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals. He was signed by Everton that summer, as new manager Ronald Koeman looked to boost an ageing defence whose vulnerability had proved to be Roberto Martinez’s undoing. It soon became apparent, however, that Williams’ best days were behind him. The centre-back scored a memorable winner against Arsenal in December 2016, but his second campaign at the club was beset by ill-discipline and a number of costly errors. After the arrival of Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina, Williams was banished to Championship Stoke City to see out the final year of his Goodison Park contract.
Being sent off for an elbow on Ashley Barnes in a costly defeat at Burnley. This would turn out to be Williams’ final appearance in a blue shirt.
Oumar Niasse (Lokomotiv Moscow, £13.5m)
Niasse was an expensive purchase for an Everton side lacking consistency – but it soon became apparent he didn’t have the necessary quality to thrive in the Premier League. After struggling to get up to speed with the pace of the English game, he was sent out on a season-long loan to Hull City by new manager Ronald Koeman – who saw Niasse play for 45 minutes in a pre-season friendly and decided he didn’t fancy him. In fairness to the Senegalese striker, he redeemed himself slightly by scoring eight league goals in a tumultuous 2017/18 campaign, but for many Evertonians, he is the epitome of the club’s lack of joined-up thinking in the transfer market.
After failing to net during his first six months at the club, Niasse was left out of Everton’s 2016/17 Premier League squad, revealing he didn’t even have a locker at Goodison.
Davy Klaassen (Ajax, £23.6m)
From captaining Ajax in the Europa League final to making one Everton matchday squad in six months, 2017/18 represented a huge backward step in the Dutchman’s promising career. Klaassen is yet another example of the Toffee’s poor recruitment strategy. The attacking midfielder arrived at Goodison as the club’s marquee summer signing, but after the arrivals of Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson and difficulty adjusting to the Blues’ playing style, Klaassen was deemed surplus to requirements. After mustering just 250 minutes of football in the league, Klaassen was sold to Werder Bremen in the summer of 2018 for £12 million – a fee that represented a huge depreciation in value.
Klaassen twice found himself demoted to the youth team during Sam Allardyce’s spell in charge – a far cry from that memorable European run with Ajax.