We Stan For Everton’s Commitment To Broken Galácticos

Why hire scouts when you know that Real Madrid, Manchester United and Barcelona are doing that for you?

There are some famed transfer policies in the world of football: Real Madrid’s Galácticos, Athletic Bilbao’s cantera, Guadalajara’s Mexican-born only and Newcastle’s annual $0 push for survival. But my favorite, without a doubt, is Everton’s. 

Without doing any research whatsoever, I’d venture to say that Everton has no scouting department. It’s entirely unnecessary with this approach. Instead, the club’s policy is a mixture of the nostalgia evoked from the remembrance of things past and the demand that you’ve played for a club on the Forbes rich list.

I wouldn’t be surprised to visit the Finch Farm training ground and come face-to-face with a plaque that reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

Rather than scouring the lower reaches of France or the Netherlands or South America in search of young talent with sell-on value, Everton appears hellbent on recapturing the spirit inside football’s lost souls.

The latest example is 29-year-old Colombian James Rodríguez, who’s not so much a great footballer as he is the idea of one at this point. Over the last five years, it’s become difficult to talk about James as anything but a phantom. His presence at the 2014 World Cup still lingers strongly in the air, a dancing sprite of the imagination that’s chesting, swiveling and unleashing stunning volleys that go crossbar down. 

Over the last five years, he’s haunted the world with brief glimpses of the fantastic — that thunderous volley against Almería, the sumptuous free kick against Leverkusen, that prophetic assist against Poland — but no one can really say just how good the 29-year-old is now.    

Here’s the amount of league matches he’s started over the last four years.

2015-16: 17 LaLiga starts for Real Madrid

2016-17: 13 LaLiga starts for Real Madrid

2017-18: 19 Bundesliga starts for Bayern Munich

2018-19: 13 Bundesliga starts for Bayern Munich

2019-20: 5 LaLiga starts for Real Madrid

James has drifted into what German philosopher Martin Heidegger fathered as Thing Theory. Heidegger said the difference between an object and a thing is that an object is endowed with encoded value on the basis of what it does for us — like a vase, hammer or car.

The subject-object relationship is defined by usage and the benefit it provides us with, and the object is, by extension, an instrument that reveals the demands of our society or culture.

But when an object breaks down and is unable to perform its rudimentary function, it transitions into a thing, and the unceasing flow of distribution and consumption is momentarily stopped. The thing exists in and of itself and outside the subject-object relationship.  

This theory works to reveal the entanglement of humans and things, but it could also be used to examine the Toffees’ preference for somewhat broken footballers. At times, Everton seems like one big rehabilitation project to suss out and reveal the essence of a footballer that was but is now gone.    

James is the perfect Everton signing — in line with the transfer policy previously mentioned and the fact that the Blues only really fuck with household names. 

In the modern game, Europe’s super clubs raid the poor and reinforce the rich every summer. Everton — again, best transfer policy around — is the only club that inverts this trend in a truly Robin Hood-type manner. 

While every other mid-table side is locked in a hellish battle to keep Manchester United away from an academy project that sprouts both arms and legs, Everton walks into the Aon Training Complex, puts a metaphorical gun to Man’s head and says: “Wayne Rooney? Morgan Schneiderlin? Tom Cleverly? Darron Gibson? Louis Saha? Tim Howard? Yeah, we’ve heard of ‘em. Now hand them over.”

This scene plays out across the breadth of Europe.

Barcelona: “André Gomes, Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina and Gerard Deulofeu? Inject that Barça DNA into me.”

Manchester City: “Fabian Delph, Eliaquim Mangala, Gareth Barry and Jô for one-hundredth of what you paid? Get in.” 

“Royston Drenthe from Real Madrid? Theo Walcott from Arsenal? Aaron Lennon from Spurs? John Heitinga from Atlético? Samuel Eto’o from Chelsea? Davy Klaassen from Ajax? Nil satis nisi optimum. Nothing but the best is good enough.”

Although the club typically fails to live up to preseason expectations, at least supporters are allowed to dream for a few weeks with visions of James, Napoli’s Allan and Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucouré taking the pitch, coupled with the sense of pride at seeing local players like Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and Anthony Gordon compete alongside them.    

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