For as long as we can remember, Everton have lived in Liverpool’s shadow, lingering just outside the top-six. By hiring Carlo Ancelotti back in December 2019, the club made a clear statement of intent. They needed a project. Since then, Ancelotti has had a major positive impact on the club. Having now settled at Everton, the Italian manager has made several key singings this summer, giving Evertonians much to be excited for.
Famed for his 4-4-2 diamond formation at Milan and his unstructured training sessions at Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti boasts quite the CV. In fact, he is one of only three managers to have won the UEFA Champions League three times. Not many managers have managed at top clubs in each of Europe’s top-five leagues, yet Ancelotti now finds himself at Everton.
When he took over in December, Everton fans were enduring one of their most difficult seasons ever, sitting in 17th at the time. Ancelotti instantly implemented his 4-4-2, and has now discovered one of the most promising strike-partnerships in the league in Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin. Both finished the season with 15 goals in all competitions.
That being said, while there is promise in some positions, there is flat-out mediocrity in others. Injuries and poor form meant the center of midfield was constantly up in the air, and the club’s wingers weren’t as impactful as some originally expected. Ancelotti knew he had serious work to do.
Big Names, Big Money
With Schneiderlin gone, Sigurdsson aging, and Gbamin injury-plagued, Ancelotti knew what area of the park to target this summer. Andre Gomes has shown flashes of brilliance since his move from Barça, but more quality alongside him is needed. In a summer of constant financial turmoil and rumors, Everton have made three massive moves.
The first big name headed to Merseyside is Allan. The Kanté-like midfielder has been linked with Premier League clubs for years, and his time has finally come. I expect him to start from day one, having a similar impact Idrissa Gueye did a few years back. The Brazilian will also be able to contribute a bit going forward.
Next, Abdoulaye Doucouré has moved from relegated Watford for a reported $30 million fee. Doucouré demonstrated versatility and consistency last season in a more advanced role, giving Ancelotti a much needed option in the heart of midfield.
Finally, Ancelotti has reunited with his once-star boy midfielder James Rodriguez. This deal went through solely due to Ancelotti’s relationship with the Colombian, having had so much success with him at Madrid. James will give Everton a major boost in quality going forward, whether he is deployed through the middle or on the right. With James needing a move away from the Bernabeu, this transfer seems like a match made in heaven.
Piecing It All Together
These transfers alone give Everton a sense of legitimacy instantly. With a new, firing front-two, a strong midfield, and young defensive promise in Holgate, Keane, and Mina, the team’s core is now strong. Lucas Digne has established himself as one of the Premier League’s best left-backs, and Everton are reportedly still in the market for a top-quality right-back (as a long-term replacement for Seamus Coleman).
Ancelotti’s main task now is to figure out how he will set up his midfield. The arrival of James Rodriguez could see him deploy a flat four like he did last season. It could also mean he’ll deploy a narrow diamond, with James through the middle.
Everton fans will presumably be cautious despite their excitement, as they know how this story usually goes… Optimism may only lead to disappointment. That being said, this season could be different. Not many teams can boast a midfield brimming with established players. Everton should be pushing for European qualification this season.