Where can Marco Silva add strength to Everton this summer?
Everton had been vying to be known as the Premier League's best of the rest for several seasons. Then, in the wake of David Moyes' departure, they fell off the pace. The Blues finished ninth in what many Gwladys Street irregulars considered a very dull season, especially after spending over €200 million. The signings were of sub-par quality and didn't fit the club ethos. The managerial change only made matters worse.
Ronald Koeman was sacked after a disastrous start to the season. Sam Allardyce came in to steady the ship. His pragmatic style was widely criticized by the Goodison Park faithful. In Marco Silva, the Toffees have a manager who is young, ambitious and proven. To succeed, he must first manage a hectic pre-season, most notably in the transfer market. The Portuguese has an ally in Marcel Brands, the newly appointed director of football. Fans are hoping the duo kick the season off in style.
Here's what Silva and Brands must do to comply with those wishes.
Everton splashed the cash for Jordan Pickford last season. The youngster had a tricky start to the season but grew as the season progressed, as his work as the new England no.1 at the World Cup illustrates.
Joel Robles has left the club on a free to join Real Betis. The other reserve keeper in the side is 35-year old Maarten Stekelenburg.
In the market?
There is need for another keeper. Everton isn't linked to anyone as yet, but should surely be in the market for a young understudy for Pickford.
There are no worries on the right. Seamus Coleman has made his return from a horrific leg break. He wasn't his best in 2017/18, but the signs were there late in the season. Coleman was perhaps the most balanced and composed right back in the Premier League before his injury. Jonjoe Kenny proved to be an able deputy and will only grow in the coming years.
On the other side, the Toffees must be concerned with the left back situation. No one doubts Leighton Baines experience and quality but, at 33, age and injury are catching him up. Worse, for two seasons now, there has been inadequate cover when the bookish fullback is out of the picture.
Cuco Martina is anything but a left-back. Luke Garbutt is an exciting prospect but is not at all ready to start.
In the market?
Another left back is required. Celtic's Kieran Tierney has been linked with a move to Goodison Park for some time now and would be a great signing for the Blues.
Let's start with the captain, Phil Jagielka. Even at 35, the Englishman is still going strong. He was an important cog under Koeman and earned his spot back after an early falling out with Big Sam. He was Everton's best centre-back last season, letting his age get only a little of his performance. It's a risk to expect that for another season, however.
Michael Keane had an on and off debut season. He performed well when he was settled. Those around him faired reasonably, too. He is still 25 and will be Everton's primary centre-back next season.
Ashley Williams was a shadow of his Swans' self at Everton. He made crucial errors and was largely a passenger. He is 33. Everton must cut their losses with him.
Mason Holgate played a part last season but he has stages of development to go through before challenging for a spot in the first XI.
Ramiro Funes Mori was too often injured but could still be used as a squad player next season.
In the market?
Silva and Brands will have to do some shopping to put more quality in the box. Everton is in dire need of a player, in his prime, at the base of the defence. The Toffees have so far been linked with Yerry Mina, Ben Gibson and Alfie Mawson. Each would be a quality addition, an instant upgrade over the existing options.
Idrissa Gueyye is becoming better and better. He hasn't looked back since his breakthrough season at Aston Villa and is now among the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League. He will be a sure starter.
Morgan Schneiderlin had a positive end to the season but it wasn't enough. He was poor for most of the season. Issues arose regarding his attitude and mentality. He looked good alongside Gueyye but his future remains unclear.
Tom Davies continues his extraordinary rise. He grew into a complete midfielder who could play any role in the middle of the park. The 20-year-old Scouser should be malleable clay for Silva.
Davy Klaassen arrived from Ajax last summer with high expectations. Like most of Everton's summer signings in 2017, he failed to impress. The Dutchman made only seven appearances for the club. Much of that had to do with him not being a Sam Allardyce player. His future is uncertain but the talent is certainly there. Solely Marco Silva's decision now.
Beni Baningime is also one for the future. He won't be as involved as Davies but expect to see him in the cup games.
In the market?
At present, there is no need for another midfielder, although there will be if either Schneiderlin or Klaassen leave.
Gylfi Sigurdsson broke Everton's record transfer fee last summer. He hasn't proved his mettle yet, but surely will. The Icelander is still 28 and already Premier League proven. He will bag loads of goals and assists if deputised properly. Wayne Rooney has already left the club. Sigurdsson should make the most out of the role he will be given next season.
Nikola Vlasic, just like Klaassen, is a talented player who was desperate for minutes last season. He might also benefit from Rooney's departure but must make an impression on the manager in pre-season.
Theo Walcott actually impressed. He hit the ground running immediately after arriving from Arsenal in January. Expectations are heightened for the Englishman's first full season at Goodison Park.
Yannick Bolasie made his return from a knee injury but rarely looked the player he was. Everton should look to sell him, particularly with Fenerbahce interested.
Ademola Lookman impressed while on loan at RB Leipzig. The 20-year-old deserves a chance to prove his worth. He should at least be utilised as a squad player next season.
Kevin Mirallas, on the other hand, burned bridges rather than building them. His Everton career is all but over after his feud with the club.
In the market?
Everton are short of depth on the wing. Lack of width and quality in the role last season was unacceptable. Wilfried Zaha and Richarlison are the names currently being tossed about.
Sandro Ramirez was Romelu Lukaku's replacement at Everton. A year later, he could be on his way out. The move hasn't gone well at all. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Spaniard is part of Marco Silva's plans.
In contrast, Oumar Niasse came out of extinction to score crucial goals for the Blues. He has fought his way back into the first team and should be a squad player next season.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is another youth prospect in whom the Toffees can show pride. He had a positive season and will likely play a similar role this time around.
Cenk Tosun looked like the real deal when he scored four goals in three games. But like many January signings, he was inconsistent. With a pre-season behind him, hope is he will come back firing and be the 20-goal striker Everton needs.
In the market?
There is no need for another striker, even if Sandro leaves. Tosun is the first choice while Calvert-Lewin and Niasse are able backups.
Everton's priorities must be a new backup keeper, left-back, a centre-back and winger.