With the attention of the world very much focused on South Africa and a World Cup tournament that has finally sprung to life in its latter stages, it’s been easy to forget that the Premier League transfer window is open for business. A couple of transfers have made headlines, mainly those of big-spenders Man City who have captured David Silva and Yaya Toure, but the summer’s transfer shenanigans are yet to really spark into life.
However, given that Everton outrank England in my fan-hierarchy and that England weren’t worth thinking about too much at the World Cup anyway, I’ve been watching the transfer exploits of my club very carefully indeed. There have been no headline grabbing moves, but David Moyes has been reasonably busy so far this summer and I for one am rather excited with what I’ve seen; Moyes is building a bright blue future.
Everton have made four signings so far this summer, with the main two being the arrival of League One goal machine Jermaine Beckford from Leeds and Slovakia’s World Cup stopper Jan Mucha. Both come into the squad looking to prove themselves at a higher level, and both will very much be expected to provide a little extra competition for places – a competition that they will likely lose, with the more proven qualities of Saha, Yakubu and Howard almost certain to retain their place in the starting XI come the beginning of the season.
More exciting, in my opinion at least, is the arrival of two relatively unknown youngsters, and the prospect of more. Joao Silva and Magaye Gueye have joined the club, under-21 internationals for Portugal and France respectively, and – if the rumours are to be believed – were secured despite reasonable competition from other clubs like Porto and Lyon. While still raw and untested at the top-level, it would seem that these are players with plenty of potential.
Furthermore, a ‘first-option’ deal has been agreed with Neftchi Baku which gives Everton first refusal on the transfer of Araz Abdullayev. Abdullayev is Azerbaijan’s youngest ever full international and very much a rising star in his homeland, and it seems that as soon as a work permit is likely to be granted Everton may make their move – he has already had a tour of the club’s facilities and a medical, and is another exciting young prospect that the Toffees have moved quickly to secure.
Finally, Bob Schepers is a young and highly rated Dutch winger who has represented his country at age-group level and is apparently currently training with Everton’s academy. If this trial goes well it seems that he too will join the club, although plenty of other suitors are waiting in the wings, with rumours circulating that FC Groningen have the second option on his signature if Everton don’t pounce.
What this shows is that David Moyes promise of three years ago to expand the club’s scouting network seems to be paying dividends, and suggests that Moyes is very much building for the future. Certainly, the signing up of young talent is not something new at Goodison Park, with the likes of Shkordan Mustafi, Johan Hammar and Luke Garbutt all having been recruited in recent seasons too, and all of whom look likely to play a big part in reserve team football for the Blues this coming season, while Dan Gosling has made a significant impression on the first team.
And then you consider the success of Everton’s own homegrown talent, the likes of Jack Rodwell, James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe in recent seasons – who of course are following in the footsteps of Wayne Rooney – as well as Seamus Coleman and Shane Duffy who are on the verge of similar breakthroughs. Plus, more youngsters like Jose Baxter, Ross Barkley and Hallam Hope are making real waves around the club as they progress through the youth system.
The future for Everton then, looks extremely bright and it is little wonder that foreign youngsters like Silva, Gueye and Abdullayev are keen to join the club. Much like Arsene Wenger has done at Arsenal, David Moyes looks to be really stamping his own legacy on the club, working not only for the present but for the future, building foundations that will be able to carry on the good work of the mature current squad that he has assembled.
Because it is a squad that at present is very much in its prime. Senior players like Phil Neville, Louis Saha and Tim Cahill are complimented by those who are very much in their prime, the likes of Mikel Arteta, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines. With slightly younger players already rich in experience – the likes of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Leighton Baines – and youngsters who are just starting out – Jack Rodwell, Dan Gosling – Everton’s squad is not only able to compete right now for fourth place, but has a strong foundation for the future.
And because we are aware that the likes of Cahill and Saha cannot go on forever, it is comforting to see Moyes planning for their eventual departure. The youngsters that are being brought in this summer and over the past few seasons have a good few seasons to adapt to life at the club, to settle into the Everton way and to make the step up to the first team. Thus, when the older players do step aside, we will hopefully have the players ready-made to step in and replace them, meaning we won’t have to go out and spend big.
And that’s why I’m excited by these low-key signings. Of course, everyone loves a big money signing, every fan wants to see a big-name player being unveiled at their club. But more satisfying for me is the knowledge that the groundwork is being done now. It is more satisfying for me to know that in a few years time, we won’t need to go out and spend big because we have signed tomorrow’s players today. Of course, they won’t all make it, but Moyes has a great track record – the future’s bright, the future’s blue.