Everton actually have a transfer plan and it's working as Marco Silva targets weaknesses
Everton finished the transfer window with a flourish on Thursday as deals for Bernard, Yerry Mina, Andre Gomes and Kurt Zouma marked an eye-catching finale and further addressed some of the obvious flaws in the squad.
Brazilian midfielder Bernard was the first to sign, completing a free transfer after his Shakhtar Donetsk contract expired at the end of last season. Barcelona duo Mina and Gomes then followed shortly after and joined former teammate Lucas Digne in swapping the Camp Nou for Goodison Park this summer, with the former costing an initial £27.2 million and the latter joining on a season-long loan, before Zouma completed a season-long loan from Chelsea the following day, with his paperwork delayed.
Manager Marco Silva inherited a muddled squad without an identity as the revolving door of managers in recent years left the new boss and director of football Marcel Brands needing to add players while reducing the overblown squad in their midst. This restructure has seen 10 players depart on loan or permanently in this transfer window.
The hope is that the summer marks the tentative first steps on the road to recovery after the chaos of last season. While the previous campaign saw plenty of early but misguided business carried out, the late business in this window appears more focused and part of a clearly defined recruitment plan.
It marks a welcome shift after Everton threw big money and wages at a random assortment of players last season, unsure of what to do with them or how best to use them. Brands and Silva clearly identified positions in need of attention, positions neglected by previous regimes, and carried out their dealings accordingly.
If predecessors Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh seemed guilty of buying players for the sake of it, the new regime instead appear to be recruiting to fit their preferred system and style of play. Too much of last season saw players shoehorned into the starting XI out of position just to get them on the pitch.
This sharper focus on weaknesses within the squad has ensured a quality over quantity approach. Except for Richarlison, who has represented Brazil at Under-20 level, the other five first-team signings signed this summer are full internationals. All aged 25 or younger, each of these players has their peaks years ahead of them.
Another upside is that each of the four deadline day recruits may feel they arrive at Goodison with a point to prove and Silva will hope that hunger and desire translates to the pitch.
Mina arrives on the back of three goals in three games at the World Cup, but his Barcelona career amounted to four league starts in a little over six months. The Spanish champions have almost trebled their initial outlay on the Colombia centre-back after just 370 minutes in La Liga last season. But much like the earlier gamble on Richarlison, the money spent and time invested in this protracted transfer underlines the faith Silva and Brands are putting in Mina after pursuing the defender for much of the window.
Along with Zouma, Mina should eventually form part of a new-look defensive unit needing to improve on the 58 goals shipped last season -- the most since the 2000-01 season under Walter Smith. Zouma impressed on loan at Stoke last season but has been unable to force his way into a packed centre-back setup at Chelsea and Everton should offer him hope.
For Gomes, who arrives carrying a slight injury and looks set to miss the first few games, this is a much-needed fresh start after the Portuguese midfielder described his time at Barcelona as a "kind of hell" during last season. He will want to rediscover the ability that convinced Barcelona to pay Valencia £31.5m for his signature two years ago and should offer an additional creative option in an otherwise attritional central midfield.
Yet it is perhaps the capture of Bernard that offers the most excitement as Silva looks to coax more goals and attacking output from a team scoring only 44 times in 38 league games last term and above only Swansea in terms of shots per game. The diminutive 25-year-old playmaker is at home with the ball at his feet and can fill any of the three roles behind the striker. In a squad not always noted for its composure or ball retention, his arrival is an encouraging one.
Apart from the injured Gomes, immediate attention now switches to how quickly each of these summer signings can settle and help Everton capitalise on a favourable start in comparison to the daunting fixture list facing them at the beginning of last season.
Only time will tell whether this late splurge was worth it. But Everton appear better equipped for the season ahead after one of the busiest deadline days in recent memory and that is down to the impressive work done by Silva and Brands in the first stages of this ongoing rebuild.