Ronald Koeman’s first season at Everton has shown signs that his team may be on the cusp of greatness. In Romelu Lukaku, Koeman has a player with the capability of firing Everton to far headier heights than seventh place. Meanwhile, Mason Holgate and Tom Davies have both been identified as future England internationals, with the latter in particular shining throughout 2016/17.
Yet, despite the very real cause for optimism next season, there is equal reason for Evertonians to be cautious. Certain results, including defeats at lowly clubs such as Burnley, Swansea, Crystal Palace and Watford, have served to illustrate the incompleteness of Koeman’s setup.
Lukaku’s future at Goodison Park also remains uncertain, and with the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League now mathematically confirmed, the Belgian must be seen as fair game by European heavyweights far and wide. With the clinical finisher now 1/7 in the Premier League betting to top the goalscoring charts this term, he is sure to command a sizeable transfer fee. Naturally, many hypothetical replacements have been touted, with Sassuolo’s Diego Falcinelli emerging as a potential summer target for Koeman.
Falcinelli – Football’s most wanted?
In the best case scenario, Falcinelli would provide Everton with the option to field two widely respected strikers, with the Italian hotshot’s slight, pacy build complementing Lukaku’s pure strength. At worst, Koeman may simply have the perfect replacement.
For Falcinelli, the 2016/17 season has been personally fruitful, although it's been nothing short of horrendous for Crotone, the club at which he is presently on loan from Sassuolo. Indeed, it is only by virtue of Falcinelli’s prowess in the final third that Crotone still remains in contention to survive. Although the club’s fate is out of its own hands in the battle to stay in Serie A, Falcinelli’s return of goals has proven his ability to overcome adversity.
Falcinelli, in the event of his move to Goodison Park materialising , would not be without his critics. At Crotone, the pressure to achieve anything tangible has been non-existent, but in Everton, he would be playing for a club that has a fanbase which demands success in the wake of a two-decade trophy drought.
Case for the defence
Away day fortunes for Everton in the final third have proven erratic throughout 2016/17. Yet, the defeats to the aforementioned bottom-half clubs have also occurred largely due to defensive lapses. With Everton’s dependable servant Phil Jagielka now ageing and closing in on retirement, a replacement will be sorely needed sooner than most realise.
With that already common knowledge, AC Milan’s promising young defender Alessio Romagnoli is also being linked to a Merseyside move. At just 23 years old, he has already proven a tall and commanding presence at the back in Serie A, proving capable of mixing it with just about anyone.
With Everton’s midfield already looking well-organised and hard-working, the addition of these two Italians to the squad will surely create a ‘spine’ to rival Everton’s title-winning squads of the mid-1980s.
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