With the 2021-22 season over, three teams will leave the Premier League after being relegated – Burnley, Watford and Norwich City.
Everton were sorely lacking in quality in several places on the pitch and it’s possible some gems exist on those sides that could definitely improve the Blues.
The editorial team here at Royal Blue Mersey sat down to choose who they liked best from these sides, and compiled this list of players – at the top was Burnley winger Maxwel Cornet and team-mate James Tarkowski, with Hornets forward Emmanuel Dennis also highly regarded.
Read on for some quick thoughts on the following players –
James Tarkowski – yes I would take it as a free transfer (even with the inevitable big salaries that come with the ‘Bosmans’). He’s aggressive (ask Richarlison), experienced, fairly calm and will organize himself – I’d have him as a center back three if we bought him so he could tell the others where to be. If we sign it, it holds.
Nathan Collins – reminds me a lot of Jarrad Branthwaite, while Branthwaite is naturally left-sided, Collins is mostly right-sided. Still a lot to learn but a great unit that with the right people alongside it could flourish, probably a team player but potentially streets ahead of Holgate or Keane
Maxwel Cornet, my choice of Burnley players – in an austere Clarets side he added spark. Has a soft left foot and can hammer the ball. Played primarily as a striker for Burnley but what a lot of people don’t realize is that he’s played over half of his career games as a left winger/left midfielder or left-back – you can see the value of his versatility in Everton’s blue, challenging for places and providing cover in four key positions. I like him a lot, he should be a challenge for a regular place in the first team.
Joao Pedro – I don’t know if there will be any work permit issues for him in the future as he is unlimited at all levels for Brazil and the rules when Watford signed him at the age of 18 years could have been tightened 2 years later. That said, he certainly has something in him with time to grow and learn. Strong and with a Richarlison-like ethic, he may be half a yard short of pace and not yet prolific, but he looks at home in the Premiership. It would be ironic if he came to Everton as Richarlison moved on, as it would be the same career path for both, having started at Fluminense. Probably a stand-in for whoever leads the line in 2022
To avoid? Definitely Max Aarons, who is positionally weak in defensive situations, hasn’t progressed despite playing in a regularly beaten team. Ben Mee, Championship player, good professional but you have to aim higher. Dwight McNeil, liked the potential of this guy two or three years ago but stagnated, great centerer of the ball but does not score enough.
For me, I think Ben Mee would be a wonderful innovation at the back to accompany Ben Godfrey or Yerry Mina, and tour with them each. Norwich’s Max Aarons would be an added talent at right-back, while Burnley’s Dwight McNeil would give the midfield a bit more creativity. Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis and Ismaila Sarr would also add to the team’s firepower going forward. Any of these players would be a positive addition for this Everton squad.
Dwight McNeil – Although he had a bit of an upset last season (along with the rest of his team), McNeil has shown his potential in the past and I think he would be a good pick-up for the Blues. He’s only 22 and we’ve been quite close to him in the past, which might help our case a bit.
Maxwel Cornet – Cornet’s name is already floating around the transfer world after an impressive season. He can play in several attacking positions and I think he would be a good choice for the team.
Emmanuel Dennis – Dennis had a pretty terrific first season in the Premiership, leading Norwich in the goalscoring department with 10. If one of Richalrison or Calvert-Lewin were to leave this summer I think he would be a good cheap option to help fill any potential gaps in our attack.
McNeil – It’s no secret that the current Everton squad suffers from a lack of creativity after Rafa Benitez disposed of the club’s two most creative players in Digne and Rodriguez, and the addition of Dwight McNeil could help alleviate this problem. He was Burnley’s xA leader with 4.8, only one of which was converted by his teammates, which would put him first in Everton’s squad as well as ahead of Demarai Grey’s 4.3. Burnley will probably have to sell due to his financial situation and given he’s English and still only 22, I think McNeil could be a good signing. We have options on the wing at the moment, but it seems the club aren’t opposed to selling players like Townsend to make room.
Tarkowski – Defense should be the No.1 priority in the window for Frank Lampard as far as I’m concerned because another season of Holgate and Keane starting almost every game isn’t going to end well. Yerry Mina has proven he can’t stay fit and Godfrey has struggled with injury and form this year, so James Tarkowski on a free seems like a shrewd move. Inflated salaries are definitely a concern, but if Thelwell can earn him a decent weekly salary, I definitely think Tarkowski could improve the bottom line.
Cornet – It has been reported that Burnley’s best player of the season has a release clause of just £17.5m. If true, Everton should be 100% looking to sign him but I’m afraid they are far from the only ones who want the Ivorian’s signature. Cornet was able to show his flair and talent by scoring some incredible goals despite playing for a terrible Burnley side that lacked ideas and innovation for the future. He would be a great signing in my opinion, but I see him moving to a team somewhere higher up the table.
Dennis – Should Dominic Calvert-Lewin leave the club this summer, Nigerian striker Emmanuel Dennis could be an intriguing replacement option. Despite being a very different profile to DCL, he scored an impressive 10 goals for an abysmal Watford side and put in some fine performances despite the managerial carousel and toxic environment that was Watford this season (and most seasons in the elite). Definitely one to watch.
Maybe Mathias Norman, just from the few times I watched him he looked athletic, capable on the ball and a decent passer. Also, the fee would probably be low as he might not want to return to play in Russia. About to turn 26. Concerns over his injury record over the past two seasons. Maybe to complete the team as a low cost option, probably better elsewhere though.
I agree with Geoff on Aarons. He’s quick but at 22 I don’t think he’s improved. Defensively unimpressive and not the greatest either. I think he may be an “athlete” type who may/may not learn the game. Would be expensive too.
Emanuel Dennis. Impossible to overlook, 10 goals in an awful team. A bit of an outlier when it comes to his career, but at 24 he can be a latecomer. Listed as a striker but played on the left mainly for Watford. It didn’t cost them much, but they’ll want a little more than that. The goals dried up after a promising first half-season. So cheap could be a decent option.
Joe Pedro. Has potential. Seems hardworking and seems like a good team player. Technically decent. Must add final product, but at 20 it may come. It would depend on how reasonable the fees were. Over £10m I would probably spend.
Ismaila Sarr. Stock has taken a hit and at 24 he is not as in demand as he once was. Fast, dangerous, but hurt and out of shape afterwards. Transfermarkt’s latest value is over £24m, although it hasn’t been updated since December. Worrying decline but might just need a move. If he could be snapped up for around £15million, it could be a bargain.
Maxwell Cornet. Adaptable. Was highly regarded in France as a young player but didn’t seem to start, ending up playing full-back at Lyon. Scored three goals against Manchester City in the 18/19 season! Impressive to score nine goals in a Burnley side largely devoid of creativity. Although he hasn’t suffered a significant injury this season, it’s concerning that he was sent off with potential hits in six games. Does he lack physical strength? Could be a relatively inexpensive replacement for Richarlison if sold, although it is a downgrade.
Dwight McNeil. Linked to EFC last year. End product, always a worry has come to naught this season. Lack of rhythm for a wide man. Carries the ball well, can cross a ball and is diligent defensively. Still only 22 so could come. Probably Burnley would want more than £20m and for something like that figure I would put aside.
James Tarkowski. Available for free, but will have many suitors. Reliable in a low block defense. Has leadership characteristics. Concerns are that, at 29, he would seek a high salary + only played in one system, under Dyche during his EPL seasons. Don’t think he has the pace and ability to play that Lampard wants in a CB. Avoid, personally.
I liked what I saw of Nathan Collins, and at just 21, he’s likely to become a Tarkowski/Mee-type defender. With Burnley now rebuilding in the Championship under Vincent Kompany, they might not be willing to let him go on the cheap after signing him last summer for £12million on a four-year deal.
There’s nothing more I can add about Cornet that people haven’t already said here, and with a release clause of just £17m and wages around £50,000 per week is a bet Everton should definitely take, especially if Richarlison does eventually leave him.
Emmanuel Dennis is highly regarded and at just 23 could become a special striker. He is also on a salary of less than £30,000 which makes him even more appealing. Joao Pedro is following Richarlison’s path to stardom so far, moving from Fluminense to Watford, and it would be quite ironic if he followed Richy to Merseyside as well.
Here’s a central midfield name you won’t see mentioned often – Pierre Lees-Melou. Imagine a 28-year-old André Gomes with a less flamboyant hairstyle and bear, but more versatility, proven performance, and a third of the salary? Won’t impress critics, but would be a handy backup with experience.