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Everton, Manchester City: Big spenders, big rewards?

Saturday 12th August 2017
To twist the old saying, money talks and blue shirts walk. Everton and Manchester City are big spenders in this transfer window. Will they reap big rewards?

The battle of the Blue Teams in the North West. Chelsea has tried to join the battle of blue teams in the North West but have ultimately fallen short. One big signing while losing out on two others doesn't cut it.

Both the Toffees and Citizens have spent big this summer. City staged a massive clear out. Most notably, Pep Guardiola moved on from all his full backs. Some had served the club well. Others were inconsistent. None fit the Catalan's ideal for the position. Meanwhile, Everton are looking to convince English football the Premier League really does have a magnificent seven rather than a big six.

Each may be guilty of overpaying in cases. Was Jordan Pickford really worth £30m? Kyle Walker £50m?
There are other questions, too. Does Pep finally have all the elements to create his masterpiece? Can Ronald Koeman turn Everton into something other than a pack horse trailing after the top six thoroughbreds? While they lagged eight points behind Manchester United at season's end, they were 15 points beyond Southampton and Bournemouth. The Toffees were clearly closer to the elite than the mid-table posse. Koeman's side showed glimpses of being able to challenge for a top four spot as late as March but eventually ran out of gas. Inconsistency cost them dearly.

Etihad yard sale

After Pep's underwhelming debut season, certain issues were highlighted. The Spaniard sought to address them quickly by jettisoning all five fullbacks. Aleksandar Kolarov was sold. Pablo Zabaleta, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy, and Bacary Sagna were all released. Was it the right call?

Yes. All were over 30. City needed a fresh start.

On top of that, Claudio Bravo had proven a poor acquisition. Has anyone ever seen a keeper worse with his hands than his feet? Okay, okay. Sit down, Heurelho Gomes. Bravo's stats revealed he only made one save for each goal conceded with City. When Guardiola nominated him over Joe Hart, the boss said he was willing to pay the cost in mistakes for a netminder who could act like a third centre back. Fair to say, he wasn't expecting this butcher's bill.

In addition, Nolito, Fernando, Aaron Mooy, Kelechi Iheanacho, Willy Caballero, and Joe Hart were all found wanting. They were among the 16 players in all, who were either sold, loaned, or released outright.

So how did City go about addressing its deficiencies in the transfer window?

First, they dissected their Champions League nemesis, AS Monaco, by pillaging Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva for a combined £95m. In addition, they purchased the aforementioned Kyle Walker, Danilo, and Benfica stopper Ederson, the Brazilian wicket-man for a record fee.

Despite net spending that has already surpassed £150 million, there remains work to be done. City still look a bit light in the centre of midfield, especially after selling Fernando. Ilkay Gundogan is still out injured, leaving only Yaya Toure, Fabian Delph and Fernandinho as natural choices. Finding a suitable partner for Vincent Kompany has also been difficult despite spending over £100m on John Stones, Elaquim Mangala, and Nicolas Otamendi. None have matured sufficiently to provide the consistency needed at the back.

It's difficult to imagine Guardiola's incomplete investment paying off with a title.

Toffees' new policy: buy first, ask questions later

Two Everton stars dominated domestic transfer rumours this summer. Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku's combined 30 goals and 14 assists were central to the club's 2016-17 success. Their public unhappiness also contributed to its failures.

The 24-year old Belgian improved again, his goal haul exceeded only by Harry Kane's. He did go missing in many big games, unsurprising considering he had little support and the best Premier League defences could focus entirely on him. Jose Mourinho understood as much in snatching him from under former club Chelsea's nose. Only time will tell whether the initial £75m outlay was worth it to Manchester United. For Everton, it's financing Ronald Koeman's squad renovations.

The Dutchman has recruited a dozen players, including former United and Everton academy graduates in Michael Keane and Wayne Rooney, all while staying in the black. Davy Klaasen is another player who catches the eye. He will solidify one of the league's top midfields. In addition, January signing Morgan Schneiderlin is the perfect foil for Idrissa Gueye.
As for Barkley, his career is stalled rather than accelerating. His numbers in the last two seasons have been better than in previous campaigns if his attitude hasn't. Unsurprisingly for an unsettled player, his defensive work has dropped drastically. All signs pointed towards him being gone before the window opened. Instead, Koeman may be stuck with him.

Improvement or not, after six years, that true breakthrough season has yet to arrive. At 23 this could be his make-or-break season, especially with the World Cup around the corner. Competition is increasingly fierce in attacking areas on the Goodison Park pitch. If Barkley doesn't discover some professionalism, put aside his personal ambitions, and step up now, he may never live up to his hype.

Season verdict

Who knows? City might win it this season if Guardiola can find one or two more pieces. The Sky Blues have an embarrassment of riches in attack. If--big if--Kompany stays fit, a solid defence, too. United may push them close, as might Liverpool. At the end of the day, goals are what wins game. Guardiola has an attacking corps very few, if any, teams in Europe can match.

Everton, now look stronger, especially having purchased a solid keeper. Replacing Lukaku's goals is the issue. Right now, it looks like that will have to be done by committee. Nevertheless, Everton may push Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea for the top six this time around.
Tyrone Chambers

I know most people either love them or hate them but I a massive fan of Manchester United. I'm not afraid to speak the truth. Writing it as it is, bold enough to say it in the way no manager or player could say in public. I write about all things football but I love music as well, both listening and playing, keen drummer.

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