Everton forward Steven Naismith sealed an £8.5 million move to Norwich City last Tuesday after failing to secure a regular spot in the Toffees’ first-team this season.
The Canaries came knocking for the forward’s services on deadline day in September but Roberto Martinez blocked the move at the time.
However, Alex Neil has been more successful with his negotiating this month and lured the Scotsman to Carrow Road, where he grabbed a goal and an assist on his debut against Liverpool.
So were Everton right to sell the popular Naismith?
The fan favourite netted 26 times, including a hat-trick against Chelsea earlier this season, and picked up 12 assists during his time at Goodison Park. His poacher’s instinct and ability to score a goal from nothing saved his side many times, especially last season, and is the quality which would’ve attracted a Norwich side in a relegation battle.
Off the pitch, he made his way into many blue hearts, including mine, with his kindness. The striker was always happy to sign an autograph and, of course, famed for his widely-reported gestures towards the homeless.
However, on the pitch, he has struggled for game time this season. During the 2014/15 campaign he racked up over 2,000 minutes but we are now over halfway through this year and he has spent less than 500 playing in the Premier League. It wasn’t fair to keep such a classy and genuine player warming the bench.
Martinez’s favourite, Arouna Koné, who he brought to Goodison with him from Wigan, has returned to fitness, and to some extent form, so much so that he’s kept Naismith out of the side. In the past, the Everton boss would sometimes deploy the Scot out-of-position on the wing, but the return of Gerard Deulofeu has meant that there are now too many players competing for the two wide roles. In terms of Naismith’s own career, a move to new pastures is the best.
Though not an excessive amount in the modern day game, the transfer fee will also help. It is fair to say that the board, often labelled as stingy, have not always been the wealthiest but, over the past few seasons, helped by the return to Europe, the budget has been boosted. The £8.5 million generated from Naismith’s sale could fund a move for a new player, with Martinez saying “we will always try and use the window to our advantage, and we will carry on doing the same”.
But where should the money be spent?
Naismith’s departure has left fans calling for a similar replacement to be signed, and with the lack of striking options at the club worrying most, you have to side with that opinion.
Although he could be deployed as a lone striker, Naismith was more adapted to playing behind a target man, which left him competing with the likes of Ross Barkley, Leon Osman and Tom Cleverley. Now the Toffees are left with only Koné as the real out and out striking back-up for Lukaku. And despite the Ivorian slotting in five goals so far this term he is still not showing the consistency necessary to play week in, week out, especially if anything were to happen to the in-form Belgian. So a proper centre-forward should be top of the shopping list.
Overall, I believe that selling Naismith was the right thing for Everton do. It would have been wrong of the club to keep him on the books and not let him play first-team football. The 29-year-old has contributed a lot since his arrival in 2012 and, although it is sad to see him go, the time has come for the Scotsman to move on and get playing again.