In a week when one club from Merseyside enjoyed a perfect opening round result, the other half had their own reasons to celebrate not just the football they saw on the pitch under the new manager but also the transfer activity off it.
Everton football club have confirmed the signing of Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie for an undisclosed fee on a five-year contract in a move that has excited the Toffees supporters who finally look serious about their ambitions after two years of under-achievement in the stewardship of Roberto Martinez.
It’s a big move for the 27-year old, who the manager Ronald Koeman describes of being at the ‘right age’ to make that step up from the South London club to Everton. The player himself is understandably delighted at having secured the move to play under one of the more talented managers in English football at the minute and at a club which is much more stable and headed in the right direction. The Congolese wide player said:
“I’m looking forward to putting on the Everton shirt. This is a big club and I know all about it from having played against them over the years. I just like to play football and it’s going to be really interesting to learn from someone like Ronald Koeman, who was obviously a top centre-back as a player and he played with some of the best players in the world.”
On the club’s ambition Bolasie was quoted as saying:
“The Club has made good signings, players like Ashley Williams who I know well – and I know that I’ve joined a club that not only has lots of quality players but one that produces lots of quality players, like Ross Barkley, as well. This season is going to be very interesting and I’m looking forward to being part of it here at Everton.”
So as with any signing it’s important to briefly look at what the player can bring to the table. On the surface, Bolasie is incredibly quick, strong and can score and create goals in the right environment. Interestingly Everton, under Martinez, had players who are small and agile, good on the ball but lacked in strength and power – which are certainly needed to win games in the Premier League. Koeman seems to have gone out and addressed it by signing the Congolese player, who is someone that can take people head on, out-muscle them in a duel and give Everton the edge in a physical battle, the sort of which is often the case in English football at any level.
Looking at Bolasie’s direct rivals in his positon – first off there is not much depth at Everton to start with in the wide areas. Comparing him against Lennon, Mirallas and Deulofeu who plied their trade in wide areas in the previous season, it’s easy to see why Bolasie will make a marked effect on the Toffees under Ronald Koeman. Bolasie, not as technically proficient as a Deulofeu – averages just under 1 key pass per game. But the 27-year old can add that bit of directness to his new side which will be key for them, particularly in games away from home. Unsurprisingly, he’s completed close to 3 successful take-ons per match for Palace last season – only Deulofeu has come close (1.77).
Also, the fact that Bolasie is physically stronger than arguably anyone in that squad – when it comes to running with the ball on his feet without being bullied by defence – instead he can be the one that puts the opposition defence on the back-foot more often than not – something less stronger players like Lennon or Deulofeu would fail to do. His goal return has not been the best at Palace under Pardew – but it could be very different at Goodison Park with better players beside him in Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and two able fullbacks in Coleman and Baines – who could allow him to play with a little bit more freedom than he was getting at Selhurst Park.
Koeman has known to make the right signings in his time at Southampton. Going by what he has said in his recent interview while unveiling the new signing, it does seem like it’s another well thought out move from the Dutchman. On having signed Bolasie he said:
“Yannick is a player who has been a long time on my radar because he’s the type of winger I like – fast, strong and he can play different positions in the forward line. He’s a really good signing for the Club. At 27, he’s a good age and he has experience in the Premier League. He will give strength to the team and I’m very pleased to have Yannick as part of what we are trying to build here at Everton.”
It should appease Everton fans that the Merseyside club are finally working towards a common goal which is improving on last season and building a core that can be successful for the next few years.
Having appointed the best manager available to do the job, they are also bringing in the right quality to achieve that goal. As for Bolasie, it will be fascinating to see if he can deliver what is expected of him.