Everton made one more signing on deadline day before the summer transfer window closed, that of centre forward Salomon Rondon who arrives on a free transfer from Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional.
The Venezuelan, who turns 32 this September, will be brought in to provide more than capable backup for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and his arrival completes the club’s first transfer window under new manager Rafa Benitez.
Transfer windows can be judged across the season, but there’s always a feeling more could be done while the window is open.
For Everton, depth in the full-back positions in support of Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne has been an issue for some time. The club wanted to sign Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles but the North London club blocked the move, while young left-back Niels Nkounkou left on loan to Standard Liege.
There were also links with Porto winger Luis Diaz, but that deal also failed to materialise on transfer deadline day, perhaps due to the inability of the club to offload James Rodriguez.
When Everton signed Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend not long after Benitez was announced, it was hoped that these would be the start of a bunch of signings that would add quality depth to the squad.
As the weeks passed and there were no further arrivals, bar a couple of reserve goalkeepers, there was a worry that Everton would be making do with what they have which, given their ambitions and those of their fans, didn’t feel like enough.
Fast forward to the final weeks of the transfer window and there were also worries that star Brazilian forward Richarlison might leave the club, with Paris Saint-Germain rumoured to be interested.
Richarlison was considered a replacement for Kylian Mbappe at PSG, as much as any player can replace the Frenchman (i.e., no one can).
The Paris club usually get what they want in the transfer market as seen on numerous occasions in this transfer window, even gazumping Barcelona to the signing of Georginio Wijnaldum. But Benitez reassured fans in a press conference he was 99.99% certain Richarlison would stay.
Of those players who did arrive at the club, Gray has already been something of a revelation. The fee of around $2.3 million paid to Bayer Leverkusen was a bargain for an English, homegrown player, regardless of how well the winger would go on to perform. There was always the potential to sell him on for a profit—something Everton rarely do.
The 25-year-old has made an immediate impact at the club, though. He’s impressed in general play, looking like a very useful direct player in attack who will make things happen. This makes the fee look even more of a bargain in today’s transfer market.
Townsend, meanwhile, will add a good locker room presence and is a player Benitez has worked with previously. The 30-year-old’s professionalism and desire for the team to succeed is evident during his media duties, and he may be a bigger asset than Everton fans initially thought.
One of the most important things for Everton in this window was to keep hold of Richarlison.
Keeping the 24-year-old Brazil international and Olympic gold medal winner means the team retains some genuine star quality.
Adding Rondon but losing the Brazilian would not have been an acceptable transfer window for the club, but keeping Richarlison and adding Rondon makes Everton look strong in attack, at least in central areas.
Rondon has led the line for West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle previously in the Premier League and was a star player for those clubs. That Everton are bringing him in, albeit now in his 30s, as a rotation option gives them real international quality, experienced backup for Calvert-Lewin.
The number of outgoings for Everton, including Moise Kean, Bernard, Yannick Bolasie and Muhamed Besic, should give Benitez room to work in future transfer windows in terms of wage budget space.
It could be argued that the new manager needed as much as he could in this transfer window to get fans onside, but regardless of more new faces coming in or not, the signs have been good in Everton’s early fixtures this season.
Whether that continues remains to be seen. If for whatever reason, it doesn’t continue, this transfer window will be analysed with much more scrutiny.
Overall, the players Everton have added are much wiser moves than many they have made previously, and the fees paid offer good value.
Retaining Richarlison has been key and Rondon is a very good signing for the role he will play, but there are still questions around whether there enough difference-makers and defensive quality to take Everton into the top six.
With the window shut until January, Benitez will now have to answer these questions on the training pitch and in games rather than in the transfer market.