Everton: Martinez taking a sensible, cautious approach to life with the Toffees
The Roberto Martinez era has suddenly burst into life at Everton with the completion of three transfers in two days, though the identity of the three imports won’t have exactly sent pulses racing in accordance with his bold ambition to return the club to the Champions League.
Sticking to the cliche “better the devil you know”, the Spanish coach has returned to the relative safety of the squad he relegated at Wigan to mark his first forays into the transfer market since inheriting David Moyes’s squad at Goodison Park.
Martinez has headed back to the Latics to bring Arouna Kone, Antolin Alcaraz and Joel Robles, three players he brought to the Premier League during his time at the DW Stadium, to Goodison Park; signings that are not going to clinch major headlines, but shrewd examples of business airing on the side of caution.
Martinez has worked with Robles and Kone over the last year whilst in the case of Alcaraz, the past three years, building up a measured, first-hand judgement of their quality and character to the extent he is aware of exactly what he is bringing in.
Alcaraz is the most intriguing of the three deals, a centre-half who has been very impressive during his two seasons with Wigan since joining from Club Brugge in 2010. The general consensus is that Alcaraz’s injury at Nottingham Forest in the League Cup last August was extremely pivotal in Wigan’s eventual demise, appearing only 14 times as the Latics, with 73 goals conceded, so often looked woefully disorganised without the Paraguayan’s influence at the back.
The 30-year-old Alcaraz will offer experienced cover and a degree of solid defensive quality, which he showed so clearly in Wigan’s FA Cup final victory over Manchester City, to a defence that contains Phil Jagielka and the ageing Sylvian Distin, as well as Johnny Heitinga, who seems to be on his way out of Merseyside.
At 29 and moving to his tenth club, Arouna Kone also offers a great deal of experience and the ability that saw him score 13 goals for Wigan’s relegated side last season. His intelligent mobility and skill at linking the play will bolster a forward line that saw Steven Naismith and Nikica Jelavic both struggle in the centre-forward role last term.
Joel Robles, the Spanish goalkeeper who was signed by Wigan in January, joins Everton permanently from Atletico Madrid and will now provide Tim Howard with the same competition he gave Ali Al Habsi towards the end of the last campaign, including the commanding display in the FA Cup final.
At just 23 and a part of Spain’s under-21 European Championship winners in Israel last month, he signs a five-year deal at Goodison Park in the hope he can be Howard’s long term successor to the number one jersey.
The triple-capture may not be on the same scale as the deals David Moyes pulled off for Marouane Fellaini or Kevin Mirallas, but there should be no doubt that, for a total in the region of £9 million, the new coach has pulled off three shrewd deals as he goes about improving the squad he inherited from the Scot.
Martinez has acquired three players who were stand out performers in the Wigan team he experienced firsthand for the last few years, so the logic behind the deals is palpable.
Martinez will now move onto other targets as he sets about achieving his aim of improving his squad, though few can dispute the standard of the deals he has completed so far when it is considered he is building a squad he can trust to deliver progress.
Everton have already signed 19-year-old forward Gerard Deulofeu on a season-long loan from Barcelona. Deulofeu played last season for the Catalan club’s B team, scoring 18 times in 33 matches.
Martinez cut an ambitious figure when he talked about Champions League and such during his introductory press conference and the cynics may point a paradox in signing players from Wigan, now of the Championship, to achieve that goal. Yet a slow, cautious approach is an assured, sensible one for Martinez.