So let’s forget about him for now and move onto another stupidly big transfer deal – John Stones to Manchester City for close to €50 million.
Is he worth that money? No, he isn’t, but from what I’ve seen he is and will be a seriously good player.
It was clear he wanted to go to City but he kept quiet, got on about his job and Everton now have enough money to go and buy a few other stop-gap players while Koeman builds. I think that in this case, we Everton supporters just have to hold up our hands and admit that Stones is a player who at this moment in time is probably deserving of being at a bigger club, playing on a bigger stage. Once we can acknowledge that we can then make our peace with the transfer and say, ‘Thanks,’ to City, for the money, and hope we turn them over the next time we meet them, maybe even with a John Stones own goal in the mix.
But this Lukaku fella is a different kettle of fish altogether. I think Everton should take €65 million for him, if anyone is willing to pay that, and should invest in somebody with more bottle and graft. Somebody who turns up for the 45-50 odd games a season that Everton play.
Right now, on Friday the 12th of August, it looks to me that Everton’s best line-up will consist of Coleman, Baines, Williams, Jagielka/Kone (if transfer goes through) in defence. I think that is strong enough but a goalkeeper is required behind them. Neither Robles or Stekelenburg are good enough.
Best case scenario in midfield might be some variation of Bolasie (if he can be secured), Lennon, McCarthy, Gueye, Barkley/Deulofeu (playing centrally, just off the centre-forward, bursting through the middle at pace at every opportunity. Roaming free, maybe.).
Then there is Lukaku up front (if he can be retained). Why Everton might look to contain him is the fact that there are no other options up front. None. Unless you change the system to a 4-3-3 and utilise Bolasie, Deulofeu and another pacey somebody brought in to replace Lukaku. Unless you play Mirallas up there, which might be worth a punt.
On the bench? Possibly Kone, Pennington, Galloway or Holgate as defenders. Some experience and some potential. There is also Funes Mori. In midfield, all I can see are Deulofeu and Mirallas, and Barry as an extremely static and sitting buffer in front of the defence. Tom Davies too, maybe.
Up front? Well, as said above, there’s just nothing there, as far as I can see. Perhaps one of the young players that we haven’t seen yet, but based on what we have seen playing at this level, there is just an empty space once you get beyond Lukaku.
Looking at all this it seems to me that the weaknesses should be obvious to Koeman. To us all. A goalkeeper and a top striker are urgently required. And a real quality central-midfielder is fairly high on the priority list too.
Given that acquiring these are far from certain, I think it was a mistake to let Leon Osman go. I admire Gareth Barry a lot but I think had his contract been up then he’d be gone too. The legs simply aren’t there. His only function can be as a sitting midfielder. Osman, on a one-year contract, could have provided further cover and it would have been prudent to retain him too, I think. He was a good ball player and he had experience.
Major players whose time has come and gone? As I see it, here they are - Gibson, Arouna Koné, Cleverley, McGeady, Niasse. They all could have futures elsewhere but as Everton players, at the level that the club, with Koeman in charge and Farhad Moshiri bankrolling, are aspiring to be at, they have had their time.
The younger players not mentioned here still have it all to play for, I suppose, and who is to say which of them will swim and which will just tread water.
How will Everton do in 2016/17? I think if Koeman secures Kone from Sunderland, Bolasie from Palace, and (here’s the big stretch) a quality keeper and central midfielder (Mata has been mentioned), and we don’t lose or can adequately replace Lukaku, then Everton might spring a few surprises. Positive ones.
But from this vantage point, those are two smallish ifs and three great big ones.