Even having smashed their previous transfer record with the £28m capture of Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea, Everton are still yet to decisively improve from last season. Gareth Barry has also signed on a permanent basis, as well as Muhamed Besic arriving from Hungarian club Ferncvarosi TC, but even with those signings, the Toffees are still yet to take a notable leap forward. It’s good to have them back, of course, but it’s not an advancement from last season.
Everton finished fifth in the Premier League last season with Lukaku and Barry already in their team. Now, having spent just over £28m to bring the pair back again, they now find themselves in much the same position heading into next season. Lukaku is a good investment for the club long term, but in the short term, upgrading both Barry and Lukaku from being loan deals to now being permanent transfers obviously changes nothing athletically on the pitch. Neither player will add to the team from last season; they simply maintain the team that finished fifth.
Besic is a new player, however, and an interesting player in his own right. At just 21 years of age, his development and adjustment to the Premier League will be one to watch, although it could potentially take some time. The Everton starting XI will likely be unchanged from the one that missed out on the top four places last season — and its cost upwards of £30m to remain unchanged too — but Besic will obviously be hoping to force his way in early on. Even if he does, though, that addition alone looks unlikely to bridge the gap from Everton last season into the top four this year.
It is worth noting too, that being a young player himself, it is to be expected that Lukaku will take a step forward again next season as he grows and develops. But the Belgian did already have a healthy goal ratio last season, as he scored 15 goals in 31 league appearances. So, although a step forward seems plausible, it will most likely indeed be a step forward, rather than a leap in that direction.
The Lukaku signing will prove a smart purchase/investment financially for the club over time, taking into account the player’s ability, potential, age and both the team and Roberto Martinez‘s familiarity with him. But still, the improvement of the team overall, compared to the outlay of the club so far, is still minimal from last season.