Another deadline day is upon us. As we await news on who Everton will bring in (and lose), I cast my eye upon years past to pick out the great signings from the mediocre and, in some cases, downright awful ones.
Below are details on the striker who scored with his first touch, the defender who didn’t play, the fox in the box who wasn’t a fox and the expensive flop.
Everton transfer deadline days are never dull.
Mikel Arteta (loan – February 2005)
At the halfway stage, the 2004/05 season had been surprisingly successful. Despite losing the likes of Wayne Rooney, David Unsworth and Thomas Radzinski, Everton sat third as the second window commenced. James Beattie joined to boost the attack, and Everton looked set to kick on. But what followed was the sale of another key player – this time Thomas Gravesen, to Real Madrid.
Everton needed another lift, as their season threatened to unravel. On deadline day, Moyes swooped for out of favour Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Arteta. An initial loan deal allowed Everton to qualify for the Champions League, and over the next 7 seasons, the Spaniard would go on to become a fans favourite.
Francis Jeffers (loan – September 2003)
Francis Jeffers had burst onto the scene at Everton, looking good with his strike partner Kevin Campbell. He left for Arsenal in 2001, labelled as a “fox in the box” by Arsene Wenger. However, in truth, his time with the Gunners was awful – he only scored 4 goals in 22 appearances. A change of scene was needed, and Everton seemed the most logical solution.
Unfortunately, however, Everton wasn’t the best fit. A loan deal meant there was no risk, however 2 goals in 22 appearances and an argument with David Moyes underlined the old adage that you should never go back.
Marouane Fellaini (September 2008)
At the time, the £15million pounds spent to land the Belgian was a record both for his country and the club. After one season, it was labelled as a panic buy, and was called one of the worst deals of the year (yet he was still good enough to win Everton’s young player of the year). Fellaini took time to properly adjust to English football, but once he did he became feared all over the country (disclaimer: this may be an exaggeration).
At his best, he would change any game from any position. Moyes could play him up front, behind the striker or deeper, and he would have the same devastating effect. Great with his feet and useful in the air, he added the ability to mix up our attacks, and it was no surprise Moyes took him to United with him.
Andy van der Meyde (August 2005)
I have a lot of sympathy for Shandy, but his time on Merseyside has to be the worst any player has ever had at Goodison. And it wasn’t just limited to his poor on-field performances. He was never truly fit, so it may be a little harsh to judge the time he did spend on the pitch. And, even then, he ended on a positive note – setting up Dan Gosling for that derby winner.
However, what happened to him off the pitch was just typical for a man who never settles. He suffered breathing problems, had multiple break ins (including one while playing in which his dog was taken) and then his daughter suffered an illness from birth meaning she had to spend the majority of the beginning of her life in hospital. His career never recovered from his English hell.
Nikica Jelavic (January 2012)
Signing from Rangers, Croat Jelavic scored 9 goals in his first 13 appearances, propelling Everton to half way to an FA Cup final in the process. With a likeable personality and a ruthless nature in front of goal, he gained a reputation for scoring with his first touch.
Admittedly, it did go downhill and Jelavic isn’t remembered favourably by all corners of Goodison Park however he arrived after an awful first half of the season and drastically changed the mood around the club.
Anthony Gardner (Loan – January 2008)
I don’t really have much to say for this one. Signing on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season in January 2008, the Englishman didn’t make a single appearance for Everton.
John Stones (January 2013)
David Moyes’ last signing as Everton manager was arguably his best. Initially, it was met by a lot of anger from Everton fans who wanted a marquee player to spur the team up the league, not a young right back from Barnsley. He didn’t play at all under Moyes, but became a key player with Roberto Martinez.
Last summer, Everton rejected the advances from Chelsea for the now-capped centre-back, however they were unable to do the same as Manchester City and Pep Guardiola came calling in 2016. If he can reach his potential, he will go down as one of the greatest English defenders of all time.
Oumar Niasse (February 2016)
Everton’s third highest signing played just 152 competitive minutes for Everton. Oumar Niasse cost Roberto Martinez £13.5 million, which resulted in a staggering £88 grand per minute played. Ronald Koeman didn’t give the Senegalese striker a squad number, and that was that (although he’s yet to officially leave – watch out for that today).
Romelu Lukaku (Loan – September 2013)
Everton’s most expensive signing initially joined on loan on deadline day of the summer 2013 window. It was a wonderful day for Everton fans, losing Victor Anichebe and Marouane Fellaini but replacing both immediately with James McCarthy, Gareth Barry (both who just missed out on this list) and Romelu Lukaku.
Lukaku’s first season brought 15 goals, his second 10 and his third 18. He’s Everton’s highest scorer in European competitions and scored more goals than any other Everton striker in a single Premier League season in 2015-16. Whatever happens in the next windows, he’s made a huge impact in an Everton shirt.
Royston Drenthe (Loan – August 2011)
The worst aspect of the Drenthe signing was the disappointment of it. On loan from Real Madrid, hours after we had let Arteta go to Arsenal, he was meant to be the man to inspire Everton to a half-decent season. And his first appearances were promising, prompting talk of a permanent deal at the end of the season.
Sadly, it all went downhill – with missed training sessions, reports of a fall-out with Moyes and being told to stay away from the club. Steven Pienaar re-joined in January in his position, and Magaye Gueye started the FA Cup semi-final ahead of Drenthe. By the time he left, we were begging him to go.