COMMENT By Danny Wright
Football Insider gazes into its crystal ball and predicts the Everton team for the opening day of the 2017/18 campaign
Ronald Koeman could have a lot of money to play with in the summer if the club reluctantly sell Romelu Lukaku at the end of the season.
Lukaku has been rumoured to be for sale for £80million, which could leave Koeman with a huge transfer budget to improve his current squad.
Of course, the first problem to solve would be replacing the outgoing Lukaku – and that won’t be easy.
However, if Lukaku does go to Chelsea, Everton could ask for Michy Batshuayi in return. Batshuayi hasn’t had much game time this season and won’t want to spend another season as back-up.
He could be available for a cut-price fee, although as Chelsea paid £33million for him, he still won’t be cheap.
At 23-years-old, they could be buying one of the few players who could emulate his Belgian teammate.
At the back, Koeman has a couple of issues to deal with. He’s yet to find a solid number one and Manchester City’s unwanted goalkeeper Joe Hart could be the man to improve the Toffee’s defensive record.
With Phil Jagielka aging and some questionable performances from Ramiro Fuenes Mori, Everton should also look to bring in a new, young centre-back to partner the experienced Ashley Williams.
Jairo Riedewald of Ajax could be the answer. The 20-year-old already has bags of experience, despite his age and has shown glimpses of quality similar to Southampton’s highly-rated Virgil Van Dijk.
In midfield, Gareth Barry has also been around for some time now and it would make sense for Everton to replace him with a new midfield enforcer.
Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho would be a big investment for the club but he has been linked with moves to the Premier League this season with Arsenal and West Brom showing their interest in the physical midfielder.
The Euro 2016 winner would fit in well with Morgan Schneiderlin who joined the club in January as both players are hungry to regain possession as well as dictating play.
With Yannick Bolasie set to be out of action for a long time, it would also make sense for Everton to bring a new winger into the club.
If champions Leicester City were to be relegated this season, Riyhad Mahrez would be available for a much lower fee than what was demanded for him before the season started.
Mahrez’s performances aren’t anywhere near what he produced in 2015/16, but in a fresh environment with players of a much higher quality, it’s hard to see where he can go wrong.
These changes to the Everton squad could see them making a strong case for a top-six finish, with the possibility of breaking into those crucial Champions League spots. And that’s when Koeman’s revolution could really pick up pace.
In other Everton news, Chelsea on alert as contract talks stall for this player.