Isn’t it exciting when your club makes a new signing? That’s pretty much what the summer transfer window is about – especially in a year like this one when there are no major tournaments. Unfortunately, as an Everton fan, I’ve become used to getting a bit frustrated as we struggle to compete financially with our Premier League rivals and don’t usually manage to bring in any players until late in the window.
However, last season we did eventually had cause to get a bit excited about the arrival of Marouane Fellaini at the very death of the transfer window and just the other day the arrival of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was fantastic – an exciting player with a great deal of promise who will surely add a great deal to our side. Today we’ve snagged our third major signing of the summer though… and well, it’s Sylvain Distin. That’s not very exciting, and I need a bit of reassuring.
I’ll admit now that I don’t know a huge amount about Sylvain Distin. I know what the stats tell me, which is that for the last seven years he’s been playing in the Premier League with Manchester City and Portsmouth and that at both clubs he’s been appointed captain. He’s versatile in that he can play at either centre-back or left-back (a little bit like a certain of our former players) but has never received an international cap for France.
I know then, that he’s an experienced and solid defender who can perform at Premier League level, but I also know that as a signing, he doesn’t fit in with David Moyes’ usual buying trend. Moyes, since he walked through the doors at Goodison Park, has attempted to bring in players who are young and with potential. The two recent signings I mentioned earlier, are perfect examples of this: Fellaini and Bilyaletdinov are aged 22 and 24 respectively: they’ll be an integral part of our squad for many years.
Distin though, is 31 years old. And while central defenders do often mature and improve with age, as their experience and positional sense improves, there will come a point at which their legs start to go. Especially given the fact that with every season the Premier League seems to get faster and faster, and more and more technical. The top sides all have forwards who operate at great pace and with great trickery, and when the ol’ legs start to slow down a bit, only the truly great defenders (like Maldini) will have the football brain to keep playing at the top level.
Of course, I did consider the possibility that Distin has been signed as something of a stop-gap. We’ve just sold Joleon Lescott and with Phil Jagielka not due back from injury for sometime, have only one fit senior centre-back presently in the squad, with Phil Neville and Jack Rodwell the likely deputies. With the transfer window closing soon and a poor start to the season, I could certainly understand if Moyes opted for Distin as someone to fill the gap short-term.
However, the fact that he has put pen to paper (subject to a medical) on a three year contract couple with the whispered transfer fee being anywhere between three and six million pounds seems to suggest that Moyes sees Distin as more than a stop gap. That’s a lot of money for a defender, and his contract will see him through to the age of 34, by which time he will surely be past his sell by date.
I’m a little worried then, that Moyes’ hand has been forced. It’s no secret that he’s struggled to bring in new faces this summer because of an almost total lack of funds. With Kyle Naughton turning us down to warm Tottenham’s bench and Fabian Delph being lured to Villa by a bigger contract, it’s clear that Moyes’ reputation as the best manager in the league (as voted by his peers for the past few seasons) and Everton’s consecutive 5th place finishes are less important to the modern day ambitions of a footballer than the number of zeros on their contract.
Which makes me think that Moyes has in this instance, pretty much signed one of the few players he could definitely sign. Everton CEO Robert Elstone said on the club’s Official Site that “After Sylvain made it clear his preferred destination was Goodison, the Chairman moved quickly to finalise the deal” which suggests that Moyes knew that here was one player who he could definitely capture – not to mention the fact that the way Pompey have started the season make them almost certain to be relegated.
Now, while it’s nice to see that the player is keen to join the club and to pull on the royal blue of Everton, it’s not a great feeling to think that Moyes has signed Distin not because he wanted to, but because he couldn’t get any of his prime targets. Reports indicate that we’ve had a bid turned down for Benfica’s Luisao and there’s been whispers of a move for Steven Taylor that seem to have come to nothing, and both of these players more clearly fit Moyes’ template of young and talented.
With the money from Lescott’s transfer having now been secured, Moyes now has some money in his hand to go out and add to the squad as he is well aware he needs to do. It’s disappointing then, that here we seem to have signed Distin as almost a panic buy. He will give us one or two seasons perhaps, but for three-six million pounds, that’s not great business. Paying £6m for the 23 year old Steven Taylor would have been, in my opinion, a much better use of the Lescott money.
Of course, there will hopefully be more arrivals at Everton before the curtains are drawn on this transfer window, but this signing has me a little worried. Moyes’ revolution at Everton has come from his skill in the transfer market and his excellent man-management, where he manages to get the best out of his players and push youngsters to their potential. In signing Distin, Moyes has significantly broken from his mould and I hope that this doesn’t signal the end of the revolution.
I hope, in other words, that Moyes hasn’t become fed up with being forced to try and sign top class players for pittance and is no longer looking at a long term goal. Distin is at best a short term solution and I hope that Moyes further signings in this transfer window return to his usual trend. It’s about time he was given some money to spend, and I just hope that he hasn’t finally had enough of scratching around for bargains, because we can’t afford to lose him.
Because David Moyes is the best thing to have happened to my beloved football club in recent times. In questioning the signing of Distin I in no way mean to question Moyes because I’ve wholeheartedly agreed with pretty much every decision he has made since arriving at the club, as he always has the club’s interest at heart. I just hope that he again knows what he’s doing and that Distin is, for him, just a good solid short term solution, and that he still intends to build for the future.
Even as a short term solution though, is Distin any good? I’ve never paid much attention to him, largely because to my knowledge he’s never played particularly well in any game that I’ve seen him in. I’m sure he’s a solid defender who gets the job done, but we need more than that. Filling the boots of Lescott is no small task because he was so effective at both ends of the pitch, and if I’m honest I just don’t think that Distin will be up to it.
So the usual buzz of a new signing isn’t really running through me at the moment. I hoped that Moyes would replace Lescott with a young and hungry centre half who would form a lasting partnership with Jagielka for years to come. But now, I’m worried about Everton’s failure to attract players of the necessary quality and what that could mean for the future of our club. More immediately though, I’m wandering if Distin is actually any good, and will he help us turn around our early season woes?
So come on my faithful readers, please give me some reassurance! What do you think of Sylvain Distin? Is he any good? Will he be a good player for Everton? And what does his signing mean for the club? Do you expect to see more promising and exciting signings before the window closes? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
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