For the second successive summer, Everton have gone big in the transfer market.
Toffees boss Marco Silva has been backed heavily with additions being made throughout the team. With a net spend of over £50million, the pressure will be on the Portuguese tactician to make a genuine push for a top-six finish this year.
The English top-flight is the most competitive league in the world with six clubs battling it out for a top-four position. There’s then a scramble from those underneath to claim the best of the rest crown.
However, with a number of the established order going through something of a transition, there is an opportunity for the top six to be gatecrashed. Everton have positioned themselves as one of the favourites, especially with the spending over the past 12 months.
The Toffees finished 12 points behind sixth-placed Manchester United last term and three points off of seventh-placed Wolves. It was a bedding-in campaign for Silva with the former Watford boss implementing a new style and looking to get his new signings up to speed as quickly as possible.
The team showed glimpses of what might be throughout the year, especially towards the end of the season when they beat Arsenal, Chelsea and United to en-route to claiming five victories from their final eight matches.
Silva’s side struggled to back these scalps up with wins over inferior sides and that is what ultimately what cost them last term. Amongst their 14 losses were defeats to Brighton, Southampton, Fulham and Newcastle United. They are sides Everton should’ve beaten given the quality the possessed.
But as previously mentioned, teething issues are expected during a manager's debut season. The same can’t be said for this campaign.
For the money they’ve parted with – a net spend of over £110million since Silva arrived – Everton need to be challenging the established order.
Making points up on the sixth-placed side isn’t good enough. The Toffees could’ve spent nothing this summer and still been good enough for a mid-table finish.
Silva will be harshly judged and rightly so. This transfer window has seen Everton assemble a squad like never before in the Premier League.
The Toffees lost a key man in midfield in Idrissa Gueye but replaced him in the form of Jean-Philippe Gbamin. The one-time Liverpool transfer target arrived at Goodison for just £22million according to reports. A potential bargain fee for a versatile powerhouse, he's also capable of playing in defence.
Alongside him in midfield, Silva made André Gomes' loan move a permanent one and brought in two-time Premier League winner Fabian Delph. Morgan Schneiderlin is still at the club and Tom Davies will likely be a key part of the team once again this season.
There's depth and Silva has options to mix it up a bit. He could even use Bernard or Gylfi Sigurðsson in deeper positions if he wanted to add creative flair to that middle third.
Defensively, they may have missed out on a centre-back but they did manage to keep hold of Lucas Digne and added Djibril Sidibé on loan to give cover to Seamus Coleman at right-back.
The full-back depth Silva has is better than most teams in the top ten. However, it's in the final third that Everton have really improved.
Wonderkid Moise Kean arrived from Juventus and if given the right service he could be a 20-goal-a-season striker, something the club have lacked since Romelu Lukaku left.
Theo Walcott and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are handy players to have, too. Both offer something different, both pose a goal threat and both are versatile enough to play different roles depending on who they're partnered with in the final third.
Richarlison is someone the attack needs to be built around and the additions of Kean and Alex Iwobi will likely see him better the 13 Premier League goals he managed last term. His knack to get into the box coupled with Kean's willingness to run the channels gives the forward line a good balance.
Unlike most wide players in the top flight these days, Iwobi is more of a creative force. He isn't going to rack up 20 goals in a single campaign but he could easily finish his debut season with Everton having assisted 10 or more in all competitions.
The second season of Silva needs to be more than being the best of the rest. Everton need to challenge the traditional big six and a deep run in cup competition should be the minimum requirement.