James Garner: Looks like the Isco Everton has been following for years

This summer marked the first step in an overhaul of Everton’s midfield options.

Amadou OnanaAnd the Idrissa Gueye And the James Garner Everyone has arrived, with Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin leaving on loan.

The mass exodus is expected to continue over the next 12 months Abdullah Dokour And the right Now Currently on schedule to be out of contract at the end of this season. It would be a huge surprise at this point if the latter in particular saw the renewal of his deal.

In time, the idea is that young people from the academy, such as Louis Warrington and Isaac Price, may be able to help complement the options for manager Frank Lampard. But this kind of succession plan is likely to bear fruit in the coming years.

What Lampard wanted – and needed – in the run-up to the 2022-23 Premier League season was fresh blood on a key part of the field. He has earned it.

By the time the 1-1 draw with Leeds Last Tuesday, 48 hours before the window closed, the first phase of EvertonThe midfield reconstruction was in its final stages. Onana had already entered through the door, joined from French club Lille early last month for a fee that could amount to more than 30 million pounds ($34.6 million). Goodison’s baby, Guy, who that night was on a private plane from France to Merseyside for medical treatment, was ready to follow up.

That represented tangible progress, but Lampard and director of football Kevin Thelwell didn’t make it. There was one piece she was still searching for.

After that match against Leeds, the manager spoke of his team’s need to improve possession. For the second game in a row – they also drew 1-1 at Brentford three days ago – Everton failed to see the game in which they had a 1-0 lead, surrendering the ball too easily and eventually succumbing to constant pressure.

“The next step for us is to be better at handling the ball,” Lampard remarked from the guts of Elland Road.

Despite all the spirit we showed and her defensive sense, it was clear that managing the game was still a work in progress.

But Lampard was thinking of a player who could help solve the problem.

Everton’s interest in Garner, born in Birkenhead Manchester United A graduate of the Academy was long-term.

A favorite was Thelwell’s predecessor Marcel Brands. A person with unique traits, he is seen as a potential long-term option for Round 6. Everton have been constantly toying with the prospect of taking Garner on loan, but it was felt that he needed a temporary move into the Championship first, and that he needed more physical development before Play regularly in the English Premier League.

Although Brands is no longer at Goodison, Everton increased his interest in Garner this summer. But it won’t be easy.

The first problem was that new United boss Erik ten Hag wanted to take a look at him during pre-season before deciding on his future. The other is that he has promoted Nottingham Forest, having spent the previous season and a half on loan, and others have also been watching the 21-year-old’s situation with interest.

Garner initially thought he had a chance to play for United this season as part of the new Ten Hag system. However, the Dutchman eventually proved to be a key voter in letting him leave. It is said that he was judged that Garner was not up to par every week, and United decided to cash in the bank cash rather than send him on another loan as there was no guarantee that it would rise in value.

By this point, another potential path has already been closed for Garner.

Understandably, he was keen on the idea of ​​returning to City Ground this summer after helping Forrest to make an appearance through the play-offs, and indeed some of his teammates there thought he was almost certain to return. But with Ten Hag delaying his decision on Garner’s future until near the end of the window, Forrest moved on to other goals, and signed fellow midfield mates Louis O’Brien, Uriel Mangala And the Remo Froller As part of a huge transfer.

Loan Garner, left, was a regular when Forest won the Premier League last season (Photo: John Hubley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

However, intense interest in Garner remained, including from Everton.

Understandably, some potential suitors were initially deterred by a massive valuation, said to be in the region of £18m. But at the end of the window, as many as four clubs were eager to sign him. Southampton Show interest until Thursday evening deadline, while Lister And the Tottenham stayed in the background. It was said that Leeds has been a fan for a long time.

But Everton always seemed the best option.

For weeks, they were considered the candidates to sign it.

Garner could stay close to home, and play for a team close to his roots. The Premier League midfielder and England’s centenarian, Lampard was seen as a positive mentor figure. There was also excitement about how it would fit in with Everton’s other options in the middle of the park.

Talks between the two clubs have comfortably gone on for more than a week, with the initial £9m fee generally regarded by those in football circles as a good deed.

At Garner, Everton has struck a signature he can contribute immediately, but also has plenty of room for further growth as he matures. As Lampard explained, investing the bulk of the available money in such players has been a major factor in their recruitment this summer.

“Contrary to the strategy (to sign the very experienced Guy, who turns 33 in two weeks), James is a young player with a lot of energy and a lot of quality,” Lampard said.

“He will get better with us and he will improve us. It’s a good example of us trying to go in a reasonable direction, improving the team, improving the core in midfield – getting the energy there, as well as the quality.”

Garner prefers to emphasize this quality from a position deeper in midfield.

He has worked closely with former Manchester United player and coach Michael Carrick on how to dictate play from that area of ​​the pitch.

There is no shortage of senior figures at Old Trafford who have praised the new signing of Everton, but former Spain and United star Juan Mata has been particularly impressed by his fellow midfielder.

“I’ll tell you about one example with us – Jimmy Garner,” Matt said the athlete Last season. “I really like training when he trains with us, or watching the U-23 matches, because you can see that he understands the game. He makes the right decisions. He is a fit player, and I really like him.

“(Former Real Madrid and Spain midfielder) Isco is another example of this type of player. He is this talented player and creative spirit, if you want to call him – he creates.”

Garner’s qualities certainly haven’t been lost on his Nottingham teammates either.

“Technically speaking, he’s really good,” said his former fellow Forrest midfield. Jack Colback. “Jamie has made a difference because, when he is on a date with his birth, it is outrageous how good he can be. You can see why he is at Manchester United.”

After Forest’s superb performance in a tight 1-0 . match, FA cup Quarter-final loss to the eventual winners Liverpool In March, television analyst, United captain and former midfielder Roy Keane noted his composure and contribution, marked by one massive pass that sliced ​​Jurgen Klopp’s midfield and defence, almost leading to a goal.

While former England international Carrick Garner helped refine this deep role, Always an obvious strength in his game, he’s more versatile than that. He can play as the classic player number 8 or even in a more advanced role, as player number 10.

At Forrest, he’s never been shy about making any tackle, and he has a level of work and determination that makes him a formidable opponent – until aged 14, he played as a central defender in United’s academy – (b)It was Garner’s creativity and vision that made him an important asset to coach Steve Cooper last season.

Some at the club are still talking about missing him from set pieces, and that was his threat when taking corner kicks and free kicks. Fifteen of Forrest’s 77 goals last season were from set pieces – Garner helped Ryan Yates – One of Forrest’s biggest air threats – half of its eight targets. feet eight championship Helps overall, while scoring four times for himself.

Another strength of Garner is his courage and desire to always have the ball.

Growing up as a Liverpool fan, Steven Gerrard was his favorite player. He wore the Adidas Predator shoes as a boy, like his hero, and still wears to this day; During his two loan spells with Forrest under Chris Hughton and then Cooper, he gradually developed into an all-round midfielder.

“I’ve known him since his days with the England Under-17 team, where he’s been a captain, so we’ve had a relationship before here (at Forest),” said Cuper, the former England youth coach, last season. “He has been excellent. Over the last months he has been a high performing player in the team. He has been a constant choice for us.

“He should be able to say he is a better player than he was before he came here. We are very happy with him. We are working hard with him and he is working hard himself.”

It was a surprise to some that Garner returned to Forest on loan last season, rather than having been able to reach Premier League The club – and there was a lot of interest in competitors from elsewhere in the tournament. But Garner had forged a rapprochement with Forrest during the second half of 2020-21, after loaning a less fruitful season alongside his second-tier teammate. Watford Cut in January, he always wants to come back.

This affinity was returned by Forrest fans and those surrounding the club, who praised Garner as a person.

It’s the same at South Wirral High School, across the River Mersey from Goodison in the Eastham district of Wirral.

Garner, who grew up in the area, was a pupil there from the age of seven to nine before transferring to a Manchester United high school.

Dave Woodhull was head of his home in South Wirral and remembers a sane young man who is still seen as a role model for the children who now attend school.

“He was a really good boy,” Woodhull says. “Even at the age of eleven, it was clear that he wanted to be a professional footballer. The path was clear to him and he was sane to follow – though not boring; he liked to have fun.

“I remember he was a reliable student and he didn’t bother me. But when I think back to the past, one of his best qualities was to listen. He was a good listener who could take tips and instructions on board. I’ve seen a lot of good footballers here but not all of them enjoy these Skill. It’s very important, and it has enabled James to advance.”

Despite being in training with one of the top clubs in the Premier League by then, Woodhull remembers Garner happily joining PE classes and starting to play with friends at lunchtime.

“He was cheering on the other students and you could tell he was a player on the team,” he recalls. “He comes from a supportive family, which helps because he was going to United after school and it’s a huge commitment. I’m glad it paid off for him and I hope he becomes a regular with Everton.”

There is no doubt Garner has the same ambition now as he returns home to Merseyside, ready to demonstrate the commitment, talent and vision that convinced Lampard to make his move.

(Additional reporting: Mark Curry)

(Top image: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)