If Chelsea have been universally accepted as the Premier League's biggest winners of the transfer window, Everton are surely a close second.
For the first summer in five years, no regular starters left Goodison Park. Continuity was the primary objective for Roberto Martinez and Bill Kenwright and the Toffees have committed around £100 million in contract renewals to keep the core of last season's dynamic and exciting team together.
|25/1||Romelu Lukaku is 25/1 with Paddy Power to be PL top scorer|
Ross Barkley's contract situation was of particular importance. Everton opened talks with their 20-year-old prodigy in February but no agreement had been reached by the time that Manchester City visited Goodison Park in May.
Barkley scored a wondergoal in defeat to the eventual champions and Txiki Begiristain voiced his admiration for the youngster. Everton, though, would not be moved. When City made their interest formal in the summer they were quoted an asking price of £50m – double their own valuation.
No bid was forthcoming and the Toffees eventually secured Barkley on a new deal worth £65,000 per week until 2018, while fellow prospect and recent England debutant John Stones signed a new four-year deal in August.
The one remaining question mark on the contract front is James McCarthy. David Moyes expressed an interest in the Republic of Ireland international during his brief and ill-fated reign at United and the player has since stalled on talks over a new deal. With the transfer window now closed, however, Everton officials are confident of resolving the matter in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile Martinez, regarded by Kenwright as the best young manager in Europe, was also rewarded with a one-year extension to the four-year contract that he signed on arrival at Everton, coupled with a healthy pay rise. The Spaniard greatly appreciated the gesture and the bond between the two men is strong.
Such consolidation would have been considered success in itself at Goodison Park but Martinez has also bolstered his squad significantly in the transfer market. He has made just four permanent first-team signings but the new arrivals provide a potent combination of quality, experience and potential.
Romelu Lukaku, of course, was the headline signing. His relationship with Jose Mourinho obviously broken, the Belgian also attracted interest from Juventus and Wolfsburg but Everton's £28m offer surprised even Chelsea and blew any rival suitors well and truly out of the water.
The willingness of Kenwright and Martinez to smash the club's transfer record raised eyebrows but careful financial management over a number of windows and the new Premier League television deal gave Everton all the funds that they needed.
It always seems risky when a club spends almost its entire transfer budget on one player but, for Martinez, the risk was low. Lukaku is arguably the best young striker in the world, Premier League-proven and fills the only position of obvious weakness in this Everton team with distinction. He should also improve.
Backup arrived in the form of another Stamford Bridge exile but Samuel Eto'o was an opportunistic purchase for Everton.
Already on Merseyside as a standby in case Liverpool's move for Mario Balotelli collapsed and public in his desire to sign for another club in England, the Cameroonian found himself the right man in the right place at the right time. He agreed to a more heavily incentivised deal and a lower basic wage in return for two years rather than one at Goodison Park.
Gareth Barry's arrival for a modest £2.5m compensation payment to City was somewhat lower-profile but no less important to Martinez, given the impressive midfield understanding that he forged with McCarthy last season.
And while Tom Cleverley's deadline-day bid to reunite with Martinez – his former boss at Wigan – failed, there are high hopes for Muhamed Besic, signed for just under £5m from Ferencvaros. The Bosnian is rated as one of the most technically gifted players at the club, despite his debut gaffe against Chelsea.
Barcelona's decision to loan the sensationally talented Gerard Deulofeu to Sevilla rather than return him to the guiding hand of Martinez was also a blow but big things are expected of Christian Atsu, the pacey and skillful Ghanaian winger signed on loan from Chelsea for the season.
Martinez still has issues to address in the future. Neither Distin nor Phil Jagielka are getting any younger at the heart of the defence and the likes of Barkley and Stones will only become more coveted as they refine their skills.
On the whole, however, the Spaniard can be extremely satisfied with a summer that has seen him emerge with a squad capable of replicating or even surpassing last season's thrilling football and lightning progression.
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