Everton boss Rafa Benitez has tempered expectation over the club’s January transfer spend, despite the apparent need to strengthen the current squad.
After an initial strong start to the season under the Spaniard, the Toffees have hit a sticky patch in recent weeks, having lost their last three Premier League games, with their last win in the competition having come against Norwich City at the end of September.
That drop-off – which has seen the Merseysiders slide down to tenth in the table – has been partially caused by injury, with the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Abdoulaye Doucoure currently sidelined.
Under Benitez’s predecessor Carlo Ancelotti, frequent injuries took their toll in the back end of last season as a bright start to the campaign slowly disintegrated, sparking calls for key arrivals to help bolster the squad over the summer.
As it was, the club spent just £1.7m on four major signings in the transfer window, bringing in Andros Townsend, Salomon Rondon and Asmir Begovic on free transfers, with Demarai Gray the only addition that required a transfer fee.
While Gray and Townsend have already hit the ground running, Everton still appear short of depth, particularly in attack, albeit with Benitez admitting that there may not be too many funds available to bring in new players in January.
“I think we will have some money to spend but I don’t think that will be too much,” said Benítez, as per the Guardian.
“The point is [not] that Townsend is a free transfer, or Demarai is £1.7 million — it doesn’t matter the price. It is more about the mentality. If we can buy them, fine. If not, we can loan them and make sure they stay here with us in the future.”
Everton’s spending has been restricted due to Financial Fair Play rules, after the club posted losses of £265m over the last three years, with the latest accounts due next month.
After a scattergun transfer approach in the past few years which has contributed to those losses, the former Liverpool boss has insisted that his new side have to make sure that they are ‘spending money properly’.
“The reality is I met the owner [Farhad Moshiri] and the sponsor [Alisher Usmanov] and the directors,” Benítez said. “Everybody was telling me we have great ambition and everybody wants to create a competitive team that could go to the [new] stadium winning something or playing in Europe.”
“An owner who has spent £400 million, you cannot criticise him. We have to be sure we are spending money properly. We have to improve things that maybe weren’t right. If not, you cannot justify why we are where we are after spending the fourth most [of Premier League clubs] in the last five years.”