Everton Club Focus – Toffees’ attention shifts from big-name buys to promising youngsters

As Everton began pre-season training this week there was a distinct lack of new faces present at the Toffees’ base in Austria. Indeed, the only transfer completed by David Moyes is the re-signing of 17-year-old Sporting Lisbon centre-back Eric Dier on loan for a year, after the England youth international spent the second half of last season at Goodison Park.

There is no shortage, however, of rumours surrounding the Toffees. Players from the £10m-rated Reading striker Shane Long to Derry City midfielder James McClean have been mentioned in connection with Moyes’ side, yet there is little more than conjecture surrounding much of the discussion. The price of Long would appear to rule him out of Everton’s search for new signings – Everton’s transfer budget is largely dependent on selling Joseph Yobo and Yakubu, and otherwise limited to bargain buys, free transfers and loans – but the 22-year-old McClean may be a more viable option. An offer from West Ham United of £400,000 was rumoured in June, substantially more than the £60,000 it took to bring Seamus Coleman to Merseyside from Sligo Rovers, but if McClean was to become an Everton player and had even half the impact of his compatriot, the popular, rampaging full-back-turned-winger, it would be money well spent.

McClean would also fit the mould of many of Moyes’ recent buys – a promising young player, or player lacking in experience, plucked from relative obscurity and given a chance in the Premier League. Coleman, Magaye Gueye, Apostolos Vellios, Joao Silva, Shkrodan Mustafi and Shane Duffy all fit that bill, and have each had varying degrees of success in their brief Everton careers. Coleman’s achievements have been well-documented, while Gueye and Vellios each made their first team bow at the end of last season and both impressed, Gueye displaying pace and raw power, Vellios a deft touch for someone so young and a threat through his sheer size. Silva has yet to feature in the senior side – a handful of appearances on the substitutes’ bench the total of his contribution – while Mustafi has just one appearance to his name, in a dead-rubber European tie, and both have been linked with a move away, Mustafi attracting the interest of Palermo after Silva spent the second half of last season on loan in Portugal, scoring four goals in 12 games for Leiria. Duffy, meanwhile, had his development stalled by a freak on-pitch accident that almost cost him his life.

Together with these budding would-be stars, Moyes has assembled a cohesive group, many of who came to Everton with something to prove. Some struggled at clubs with higher ambitions, others were getting their first taste of top flight football, and the rest are youth products or the rare big-money buy usually financed by a big-money sale – £15m Marouane Fellaini, for example, who joined after nearly £20m was raked in first. Additions are still needed – a striker remains the priority – but, for now, Everton are playing the long game in the transfer marker.

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