Everton may have sold their top scorer, but Romelu Lukaku’s exit allows Ronald Koeman to shape the team in his style, writes Matt Cheetham…
Romelu Lukaku’s time at Goodison Park appears over. For Everton, this leaves them without their player of the year and top scorer for the past four seasons, but that should not dampen expectations around Ronald Koeman’s squad.
Lukaku’s role was never more integral than during his final season on Merseyside, where he became the club’s all-time record Premier League scorer, and the first Everton player to hit 25 League goals since 1985/86. He scored 40 per cent of his side’s goals, registering five-times as many as any other team-mate – indeed, no Premier League club had anywhere near the disparity between their first and second top scorers.
Losing such significant output has the potential to derail any side, but Everton will begin this season accompanied by more hype than in any recent campaign.
The primary reason for this is Farhad Moshiri, owner of the club for the past 18 months. In that time he’s provided the financial muscle supporters have craved for decades, spending more this summer than in any transfer window during the club’s entire history.
Under Moshiri, Everton have already spent more than in their previous eight seasons combined, and their Under-23 side has even outspent several Premier League clubs this summer. Lukaku’s goals need replacing, but Moshiri provides the ammunition to do so like never before.
Koeman and director of football, Steve Walsh, have been quick to act, shifting away from a reliance on one individual for goals in favour of an approach by committee. Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen have been added, both of whom reached double figures last season, and Wayne Rooney followed over the weekend. By accumulating a more even spread of scorers, Everton aim to cover Lukaku’s goals across an array of attacking threats, forming a more functional overall attacking unit.
Lukaku’s scoring record stands up against most in recent seasons, but every player has weaknesses and some of the Belgian’s clashed with Koeman’s style of play. His first touch and close control isn’t slick enough for a target man, which is a role his former manager has often used. Armed with Moshiri’s millions, Everton now have the opportunity to craft a side far more in the Dutchman’s desired style, replacing their former attacking part with a variety of different options.
Koeman’s penchant for a high-tempo pressing game is another example of something he can instil more effectively without Lukaku. The Belgium international officially ranks as the Premier League’s least effective forward in terms of distance covered per 90 minutes. He covered less ground than all strikers in each of the last two seasons, and even ranked bottom of all 503 outfield players in 2015/16.
“One of his big qualities is scoring goals,” said the manager in February. “He’s strong, he’s fast. But I also think he can improve: giving options to the midfield players and threat to the defenders. We press from the front. His actions mean we might not have to pass the ball back to the goalkeeper and we can push up as a team.”
It’s easy to devalue the significance of this by simply highlighting Lukaku’s goal return, but that doesn’t have to coincide with such ineffectiveness out of possession. Harry Kane managed more goals while covering almost 20 per cent more distance every 90 minutes, which is one reason his side are much more effective. Against top-six sides and in certain away games, Lukaku’s inability to lead the press limited Everton’s prospects, and this is another area the Toffees can improve on in his absence.
As prolific as Lukaku was in an Everton shirt, there is also a narrative from fans that his proficiency dipped in the biggest games. His contribution in the 2016 FA Cup semi-final, for example, must go down as one of his worst afternoons in an Everton shirt, and stats support this notion that he struggled against the very best opposition.
Part of this is down to his supporting cast but his drop-off is still far more than would be expected. In games where Everton needed him to be at his most clinical and finish off one of his few attempts, Lukaku’s needed three times as many shots to score, meaning he’s rarely found the net.
Most top scorers are flat-track bullies, which is an important trait to have, and might be where Everton eventually miss Lukaku most, when it comes to finishing off weaker teams. In the biggest games, though, Sandro Ramirez arrives having excelled in key moments at Malaga, and may already provide an answer. His goals won more points for his side than Lukaku, who scored almost 70 per cent of his with Everton already leading, or at least two goals down.
As unashamedly eager as he was to depart the Toffees this summer, Lukaku brought the goals Everton fans had never seen from a Premier League striker. That total will take some replacing, but the club have already signed well and Moshiri provides a platform to continue doing exactly that. By sharing the load, and constructing a side moulded to Koeman’s exact taste, Everton can emerge a more efficient, effective unit next season.Soccer Accumulator Bonus
Our fantastic Euro Soccer accumulator offer gives you the chance to earn a bonus of up to 100% on accumulators on the top domestic leagues in Europe along with the group and knockout stages of the Champions League.
This offer applies to returns on pre-match accumulators of 3 or more selections on Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga 1 or UEFA Champions League.
The maximum bonus that you can receive is €100,000 or currency equivalent. The bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based .on the remaining active stake. If a qualifying bet is edited .using our Edit Bet feature. The bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply. Double Chance bets or combination bets with bonuses. Such as Lucky 15’s or Lucky .31’s do not apply for this offer.
If your bet is successful, we will add the following bonuses to your returns:
Bet Type Bonus
14-folds and upwards 100% bonus
Terms and Conditions
Applies to straight pre-match accumulator bets on the Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga .1 or Australian A-League matches. Maximum bonus €100,000 or currency equivalent. Soccer Accumulator Bonus does not apply to Double Chance bets or combination. bets with bonuses such as Lucky 15’s, Lucky 31’s etc.
If any selections are postponed/void then the bonus will still apply, but the percentage bonus added will reflect the actual number of winning selections. For example, an 8-fold accumulator with 7. winners and 1 postponed match will receive a 30% .bonus to returns.
The bonus part of your returns will be added to your account within 24 hours of your final selection having played.
This bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based on the remaining active stake.
If a qualifying bet is edited using our Edit Bet feature, the bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply.
Where any term of the offer or promotion is breached or there is any evidence of a series of bets placed by a customer or group of customers, which due to a deposit bonus, enhanced payments, free bets, risk free bets or any other promotional offer results in guaranteed customer profits irrespective of the outcome, whether individually or as part of a group, bet365 reserves the right to reclaim the bonus element of such offers and in their absolute discretion either settle bets at the correct odds, void the free and risk free. bets or void any bet funded by the deposit bonus.
In addition bet365 .reserve the right to levy an administration charge on the customer up to the value of the deposit bonus, free bet, risk free bet or additional payment to cover administrative costs. We further reserve the right to ask any customer to provide sufficient documentation for us to be satisfied in our absolute discretion as to the customer’s identity prior to us crediting any bonus, free bet, risk free bet or offer to their account.
All bet365 offers are intended for recreational players and bet365 may in its sole discretion limit the eligibility of customers to participate in all or part of any promotion.