By Paul Conatzer
Tell me if you’ve heard this song before?
There’s a football team in London, let’s call them Chelsea to make it easy. They have a Belgian striker, who hasn’t played a lot for Chelsea, but he has done pretty well while out on loan. Now there’s a team in the Northwest of England, let’s call them Everton. And they need somebody to put the finishing touches on the passes and crosses that Everton’s creative contingent supply.
So let’s go back to 2013 and Everton had a new manager in Roberto Martinez and there was an air of expectation around Goodison Park. On the last day of the summer transfer window, Martinez bought in a Belgian centre-forward called Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea. Despite costing £10 million in 2011 after some very productive seasons in Belgium (41 goals in 98 games overall). Lukaku only had 10 appearances for Chelsea. As it so often happens with Chelsea’s stable of players, Lukaku went out on loan to West Bromwich Albion. He scored 17 times in 35 games for the Baggies and helped then finish in eighth. His season was capped by a hat-trick in a thrilling 5-5 draw against Manchester United.
That didn’t impress Chelsea, so Lukaku ended up out on loan, again! This time at Everton, where he scored 15 times in 31 games. That resulted in Everton giving Chelsea £28 million to secure Lukaku’s signature. Lukaku played three seasons for the Toffees and scored 68 goals in 141 matches. After turning down a reported £140,000 a week contract in 2017 to move to Manchester United for a reported £75 million.
So let’s return to the present day. We’re close to half-way through the January transfer window and Everton have a new manager again, in fact, Marco Silva is the third Everton manager since Martinez was fired, and once again expectations are high, very high.
Quoted in the Liverpool Echo, Silva insists it’s his goal to turn Everton back into title challengers. Despite, not winning a title since 1986-87, Everton still ranks fourth in titles won league table. “It reflects our goals as a club,” Silva said.
That brings us to another Belgian striker, who while still on Chelsea’s books, has spent most of his career out on loan.
At 25, Michy Batshuayi is the same age as Lukaku and while he hasn’t had the same impact in club football as Lukaku has. Overall, he’s scored 108 goals in 288 club appearances. He’s also proved to be a clinical finisher for the Belgian national team as he scored 12 times in 22 matches.
Batshuayi is reportedly available for around £15 million. Director of Football Marcel Brands has repeatedly indicated that Everton is unlikely to buy unless there are some sales. Everton had a busy summer, bringing in Richarlison, Bernard. Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne in permanently as well as Andre Gomes and Kurt Zouma on loan. Zouma is another Chelsea player.
Everton have created a number of chances and could be challenging for a top six place, if they had taken a few more of their chances, created by Gylfi Sigurdsson, Bernard, Ademola Lookman and Gomes.
It looks like Cenk Tosun and Oumar Niasse, both centre-forwards, who haven’t really pulled their weight, nor put the ball in the back of the net enough to earn a permanent starting position.
So the question is – Can Batshuayi give Everton a taste of Belgian Deja Vu and become another piece in Everton’s title puzzle?