His team had only just been beaten 5-1 by Arsenal in their 2021-22 season finale, less than 72 hours after securing their Premier League survival in a physically and emotionally exhausting penultimate-game win over Crystal Palace.
But already Everton manager Frank Lampard’s mind was turning to a lengthy to-do list.
“I need a break but a manager’s life is a busy one and we need to do things pretty quickly,” Lampard said last Sunday.
“The team will be back on July 1. I’ll be switching on before then.”
Lampard’s immediate plan was to return to London from Merseyside to spend time with his wife and children, but he had already been having frequent discussions with new football director Kevin Thelwell about the summer recruitment that’s intended to prevent Everton finding themselves in such a perilous position again.
There is much for them to do.
With other clubs already up and running in securing new players, Everton are aware they can not sit back.
However, they do not have a huge transfer budget for this window, with the loss of key commercial sponsors associated with Alisher Usmanov factored in and the ongoing reality that, due to previous excesses in the market, they must free up funds to be re- invested first. The focus remains on cutting costs, reducing squad numbers and getting high-earning but peripheral players off the wage bill.
On that front, Everton have been working on the assumption they will make large-scale savings on wages this summer.
Striker Cenk Tosun, one of the squad’s top earners, is already gone ahead of his contract expiring at the end of June and is expected to return to play in his native Turkey. Then there is the expected departure of Gylfi Sigurdsson when his deal runs out at the same time.
Fabian Delph could also be allowed to go when his contract is up in a few weeks’ time, although no firm decision has been made yet on his future. With Jonjoe Kenny out of contract next month and possibly set to leave, the club could save in the area of £ 300,000 per week in wages on that quartet.
Loanee Donny van de Beek’s return to Manchester United will save around ,000 100,000 a week, too.
The Premier League gives clubs up to four days after the final game of a season to submit their player extension lists, which will be published in full next month.
Because of the tight turnaround, The Athletic understands some players may be marked as released even though talks are still ongoing over an extension.
That does not mean Everton won’t still have to consider selling one of their few in-demand assets.
That situation is a distinct possibility with Dominic Calvert-Lewin attracting interest from Newcastle United and Arsenal.
The striker’s epic contribution to that all-important win over Palace meant he ended a difficult campaign on a high. He had felt the criticism of his effort levels keenly since returning from injury, and last week revealed on Instagram that his extended lay-off in the first half of the season took its toll on his mental health.
However, a narrative that appeared to be drifting towards a summer exit changed with his final two performances of the season, and Calvert-Lewin’s subsequent comments that seemed to emphasize him wanting to remain at Goodison. Only time will tell if that sentiment persists should clubs come calling with big offers; in terms of European football, personal terms and transfer fees to the club.
As previously reported by The AthleticEverton’s recruitment team have also looked at potential targets over an extended period in case fan-favorite forward Richarlison, tentatively linked with Real Madrid and Arsenal, leaves.
Everton are likely to bank another sizeable sum from Juventus for Moise Kean.
The striker’s two-year loan deal back at his previous club contains a compulsory purchase option next season, worth £ 24 million plus an additional. 2.5 million in bonuses should certain conditions be met.
Kean has flattered to deceive since returning to Turin, with some reports in Italy suggesting they will attempt to find a way out of buying him back outright, but Everton are confident the purchase option will be activated.
The club have decisions to make on a host of players about to enter the final year of their deals, including Yerry Mina, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure. Allan has been linked with a reunion with his former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri back in Serie A with Lazio, while Everton have so far held off on offering a new contract to Mina, partly due to his injury problems in recent seasons.
That there is nothing on the table for the Colombian to consider, let alone anything signed, is a decision in itself for a club who often look to secure key players on fresh terms once they enter the final 24 months of their contracts.
Trimming the squad where possible, and finding homes for highly-paid fringe players, such as midfielder Andre Gomes, while undoubtedly challenging, will be a focus over the next three months.
The expectation is that, in terms of scale and tone, the summer window will not be too dissimilar to the winter one that preceded it.
The sale of Lucas Digne, a high earner moving towards his thirties, facilitated the signings of fellow full-backs Vitalii Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson, and the focus is expected to again be on finding young and hungry players.
Lampard wants robust, athletic and powerful types who can help his side play better through the lines. He will aim to strengthen the side’s core, making Everton more dominant and less fragile. There is a belief they need more leaders on the pitch and many of the targets identified are said to have captaincy experience for either clubs or their countries.
Central defense is one key area in which movement should be expected.
It is an area of the pitch where Everton already have five senior options, including 19-year-old Jarrad Branthwaite, who could well head out on loan next season for greater game time. Ben Godfrey attracted interest from Newcastle in January, with Mason Holgate also featuring on the radar of several clubs home and abroad during the same window. Michael Keane, meanwhile, was the subject of an inquiry from a Premier League club last summer, which was promptly rebuffed.
With Mina’s future uncertain, Everton want a new commanding presence at center-back. They are one of several clubs interested in free agent James Tarkowski – Lampard has been a fan of the Burnley defender since his time as Chelsea boss – but are likely to face substantial competition from early Aston Villa favorites.
Kristoffer Ajer of Brentford is another player admired at Everton, although the Norwegian’s price tag could prove prohibitive.
Levi Colwill is another name doing the rounds as a potential loan option after impressing with Huddersfield in the Championship this season, but parent club Chelsea are likely to wait and see what happens in pre-season before making a decision on the 19-year-old’s future.
It would not be a surprise to see Lampard lean on his contacts back at Chelsea, or indeed scour the loan market for additions, but there are other options.
Everton have looked at cover in full-back areas, with Belgian club Anderlecht’s 21-year-old Spaniard Sergio Gomez one player extensively scouted this season. The seamless adaptation of Mykolenko, though, means the bulk of Lampard’s funds are likely to be spent elsewhere.
The addition of a No 6 – someone capable of receiving the ball and stopping opposition attacks – is also set to be a priority. With his future at Manchester City up in the air, left-back and occasional central midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko has been touted around clubs such as Everton and Newcastle.
Overall, the challenge in front of Lampard and Thelwell is a substantial one: Improve a squad that spent the season battling relegation, but without limitless funds. Bring in revenue, without weakening the side further.
Expect a busy summer at Goodison in which smart dealing needs to come to the fore.
(Top photo: Getty Images)