Everton completed a club-record £45 million signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson this week, thus concluding a long-standing transfer saga.
The Welsh club were adamant that they wanted at least £50 million for their star man, but Everton ended negotiations for a lesser fee and they acquired a player that will significantly improve their squad and help them progress on the domestic and European front.
The Toffees have had a fine summer transfer window so far, signing seven players and shelling out close to £90 million in the process.
Apart from Wayne Rooney and Cuco Martina who arrived on free transfers, all their signings are 24-years-old or less. Michael Keane and Davy Klaasen from Burnley and Ajax respectively are both 24, while Jordan Pickford, Henry Onyekuru and Sandro Ramirez are 23, 20 and 21 respectively.
The signing of Sigurdsson, 27, adds sufficient experience to the side and is sure to boost the quality of football under Ronald Koeman in the coming season.
Ronald Koeman has brought in more fluid, attacking football to Goodison Park and that is set to continue with the arrival of Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The Icelandic midfielder is a master of the dead-ball situation, having scored more direct free-kicks (seven) than any other player in the Premier League since he made his debut in England’s top flight in 2011.
Former team-mate Christian Eriksen, West Ham United’s Robert Snodgrass and Manchester United’s Juan Mata are all behind him with six each.
He also had the most assists from set-pieces last season, with eight of his 13 coming from corners or crossed free-kicks, this creates a huge opportunity for Everton, who scored 15 of their 62 goals (24.2%) directly from set-pieces, however the loss of Romelu Lukaku could have a major influence on that.
There is no doubt about the quality of his crosses, and despite the loss of Lukaku, Everton still have the likes of Michael Keane, Ashley Williams and Wayne Rooney to finish off Sigurdsson’s fine deliveries.
With that said, only four players have more Premier League assists than Sigurdsson in the last three seasons, which is a fine achievement considering he plays for a side like Swansea City, which has struggled with relegation or mid-table obscurity over the last few years and doesn’t have the attacking prowess that some of the other clubs possess.
Cesc Fàbregas (37), Christian Eriksen (34), Mesut Özil (33) and Kevin de Bruyne (27) are the ones sitting ahead of the Icelandic midfielder, who has 26.
In Sigurdsson, Everton are also getting an engine in midfield. He appeared in all 38 games for Swansea City last season, and ran the most kilometres out of any player in the Premier League, with 433.
This will be a welcome statistic for Ronald Koeman who also has Thursday night European football to look forward to in the upcoming season and having a player like Sigurdsson, who has the drive in midfield and a knack for not being out injured to often is a major positive for the side.
It will be interesting to see how Ronald Koeman accommodates all his new acquisitions in one side.
He played a 3-4-2-1 formation in their Premier League opener against Stoke City with Wayne Rooney and Davy Klaasen supporting Sandro Ramirez as the sole forward up front, however, if Koeman does choose to remain with this formation, it would be expected that Wayne Rooney is dropped to the bench as Sigurdsson provides a fresh and more mobile option in attack.
If they are coming up against a more offensive opponent, a 4-3-3 setup would be a miss, with Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gana Gueye supporting Sigurdsson in midfield to create more compactness in the side.
In addition to being Swansea City’s greatest goal creator since they came up to the Premier League, he is also their greatest goal scorer, having netted 34 times for them, including nine last season.
Goals from midfield were what Everton struggled for in the last campaign, having been heavily reliant on Romelu Lukaku, who scored 40.4% of the Toffees’ goals and with Sigurdsson in the side, they are getting a key attacking outlet in the middle of the park.
Approaching 28, Gylfi Sigurdsson is at the peak of his powers and is sure to improve this excellent side that Ronald Koeman has developed at Goodison Park.
Strong and youthful in all positions and with sufficient strength in depth, they are sure to challenge for a place in the Champions League right to until the end and Sigurdsson could be crucial to them as they enter a new era.