Everton were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Premier League leaders Chelsea on Sunday to all but end their faint Champions League hopes.
Ronald Koeman’s men posed, on paper, the toughest challenge to Antonio Conte’s Blues in their quest to land the title this term, yet goals from Pedro, Gary Cahill, and Willian secured a comfortable victory for the visitors at Goodison Park.
And the result means the Koeman’s Toffees remain seventh in the table, but more importantly, they are now eight points adrift of Manchester City in fourth and, with only three games remaining, their slim top four hopes are all but over for another season.
However, they look set to return to European competition in the Europa League next season, given that seventh will almost certainly warrant a spot in Europe’s secondary tournament, and Koeman and his team will surely be looking at strengthening his squad during the summer.
And one man they’ve been linked with in recent weeks is Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson, who scored a sublime free-kick to earn the Swans a crucial point at Manchester United on Sunday.
The Iceland international left David De Gea helpless to draw Paul Clement’s side level at Old Trafford and keep them within two points of safety, yet speculation is already building about his future away from the Liberty Stadium, with Everton one side reportedly keeping tabs on the 27-year-old.
And it’s a deal Koeman simply must get done this summer to strengthen his squad ahead of their European adventures next season.
And that’s because Sigurdsson is simply too good for Swansea, regardless of whether they stay up or not this season.
The 27-year-old has scored nine goals and laid on 12 assists to help Clement’s men move to within two points of safety, with his tally of 21 direct contributions nine more than the next-best Fernando Llorente, whose tally of 12 goals has also been important to the Swans’ charge to avoid the drop.
However, it is Sigurdsson that makes Swansea tick in the final third, be it his incredible vision and eye for a pass, or his sumptuous crossing and set piece ability.
And it’s these traits which have seen him register 12 assists in the Premier League this season, only one fewer than the league’s highest tally from Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
This suggests that he is the man the Swans look to to produce something special, be it like his excellent free-kick against United last weekend, or his fine finish to almost earn them a point away at City a few months back.
And it’s his capability of dealing with the pressure that goes with that which would stand him in good stead at Goodison Park.
Everton’s attacking options are strong, with Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas arguably the best behind striker Romelu Lukaku, yet neither are as consistent and have performed as well as Sigurdsson has this term.
Many will argue that Sigurdsson has already had his big move when he joined Tottenham back in 2012, but he joined Spurs during a time of uncertainty and inconsistency on and off the pitch, and arguably slightly too early in his career to make a telling impact.
Yet there is no doubt that the Iceland international is a much better player now than during his time at White Hart Lane, and he has proven time and again that he can make the difference in the final third against several teams in the Premier League, both at the top and the bottom.
Sigurdsson has, for the most part, carried Swansea this season, such is his quality in the final third even during their trickiest of times this term, and there has been no greater goal/assist partnership in the Premier League this time round than him and Llorente (five times they have combined).
And this must surely excite Everton fans given the striker they have leading their line… Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgium international has scored 24 goals and laid on six assists in the Premier League this season to help Everton to seventh in the table, yet you sense that he could have had even more if the quality of delivery was at times better, and someone picked out his runs quicker and perfected their weight of pass much sooner.
These are all traits Sigurdsson has proven to have in abundance this term.
He could have had more assists, Lukaku could have had more goals – put the two together and it could be a deadly partnership, and one that takes Everton closer to the top six.