Carlo Ancelotti sent early Everton transfer message but can still save long-term millions
Carlo Ancelotti had been Everton manager for less than three months when he sent a message.
“It is an area where we need more energy, I think,” Ancelotti said of his midfield.
“We have quality, but above all energy in the Premier League is really important. This doesn’t mean that I am not happy with the players I have but if we are thinking to improve, I think on this aspect we can improve.”
If this was his opinion in March, then Ancelotti will have taken a particularly dim view to the final showings of the season when Everton returned from lockdown.
Take our Everton end of season survey here
So Everton will target a midfielder this summer. Energy is the only desired characteristic Ancelotti has offered publicly so far, as well as pursuing Southampton captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
But what comes after that? Did the midfield that limped into the summer look like it only needed one or two additions?
The grim reality is that the problem is far more widespread.
Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fabian Delph both turn 31 before Christmas while only Andre Gomes can truly be considered of a prime age.
Jean-Philippe Gbamin will offer a boost when he returns but it may still be some time before he shows the full-range of his talents and Tom Davies – despite making more than 100 Premier League appearances – has only recently turned 22.
That would leave Ancelotti with three fit options for the start of the new season assuming he would ideally use Sigurdsson further forward.
There can be a case made then that Ancelotti and Marcel Brands should target two – potentially three – players for this area and in a normal summer, they may well have. But under the current financial landscape, one might have to do.
Sign up for the Liverpool ECHO daily Everton newsletter HERE
Because it is not just in the middle of midfield that Everton must reinforce. A left-back and right-winger are also on the wish-list while a senior centre-back, despite the emergence of Jarrad Branthwaite, could still be added.
So where can Everton save, in the long-term at least?
The academy must be part of the answer.
Jonjoe Kenny will return from Schalke and could potentially fight Seamus Coleman for the right-back berth to give Ancelotti another 12 months to assess his options. Davies, you would imagine, will remain part of the midfield while Anthony Gordon is here to stay.
But the timing could work for Everton in their problem area too.
It will not be an immediate fix, of course, but the emergence of athletic 17-year-old Tyler Onyango at under-23 level has been particularly eye-catching with academy staff believing he can reach the highest level.
Rhys Hughes, meanwhile, collected the Keith Tamlin Award for the player who shows “excellence, attitude and application” during their time in the academy and he was rewarded with a three-year contract in January.
Should Adeniran agree a new contract and leave temporarily, then the landscape could further change in 12 months if the duo impress in senior football.
Sebastien Quirk and Lewis Warrington – both fanatic Everton supporters – have also agreed new deals during the summer and will be part of the reckoning under Unsworth along with Einar Iversen during the new campaign.
Ancelotti and Brands could still save millions in their problem area. It might just take a little time and patience.
Right now though, the search for additional midfield energy remains the most pressing issue of the summer for Everton.