Everton have as many as nine senior players available for transfer before the deadline as they look to recoup funds after their summer deals, with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Theo Walcott among the high earners they would like to offload.
Some of those sporting director Marcel Brands would like to shift from the Goodison payroll are more obvious than others. Players such as Cenk Tosun (currently recovering from injury), Mo Besic and Sandro Ramirez have already been loaned out in recent seasons and are not part of Carlo Ancelotti’s plans.
But, although they are proactively trying to sell some more than others, the club would also listen to good offers for last year’s recruits Moise Kean and Alex Owobi if there was any chance of getting back a sizable portion of what they paid for them 12 months ago.
Midfielder Fabian Delph, another who only joined in 2019, would also be allowed to leave if he pursued another challenge elsewhere. So too would Brazilian Bernard, who will only be a back-up option this season should everyone stay fit.
Naturally, there are different categories of priority in terms of potential outgoings. There is no chance every one of these players will be allowed to leave in this window given Ancelotti has to retain enough numbers in his squad, but it is a reflection of Everton’s poor recruitment in previous years that so many head into the final weeks of the transfer window facing such uncertainty.
Given the need for economic balance, back-up players the club are more reluctant to sell - or would be happy to keep - may still come into the equation if decent bids are lodged.
The situation is complicated because those who Everton would most like to lose from the wage bill tend to be the most difficult to remove, a consequence of the lavish contracts they were given upon joining the club. Walcott, especially, comes into that category.
Finding clubs who will match those salaries, let alone offer a fee for their services, is difficult at the best of times, but even more so now given clubs’ financial difficulties amid the pandemic.
Players like Kean and Iwobi are not quite in the same situation as Ancelotti will develop their game and use them rather than freeze them out should they remain at Goodison Park, but there may be more interest in them. That would present a dilemma for the manager and board as they try to balance the books in the light of the recent investment on James Rodriguez, Allan and Ousmane Doucoure.
Ideally, Ancelotti would like to add a couple more signings. He needs a back-up goalkeeper to challenge Jordan Pickford, and another centre-half. Chelsea’s Fikayo Tomori has been a target all summer, Everton hoping for a loan arrangement.
That is even more urgent following the injury to Mason Holgate which will keep him out for three months. But the last few weeks are as likely to be focused on cutting the numbers as adding to them. Everton face Salford City in the second round of the EFL Cup on Wednesday.