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We are in the thick of the transfer market silly season, so all rumors need to taken with the appropriate number of grains of salt. But, the rumors are these. Everton's young winger, Anthony Gordon, wants out. The club has reached an agreement with Newcastle to sell the 21-year-old, according to CBS Sports insider Fabrizio Romano. 

This isn't great for Everton, obviously. The last thing you want to be doing as a team in the middle of a relegation battle is selling one of your only young and valuable assets. Though, to be fair, Gordon seems to want out of the mess that is currently 19th place Everton, and with only three goals to his name in just over 1000 minutes, it's not like his contributions this season are irreplaceable. Most of Gordon's value lies in what he may become, and what he is now is an eminently replaceable winger. So selling high could be good business. But it seems Everton are convinced on ensuring it won't be.

One of the more prominent rumors out there is that the Toffees will look to buy Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech as a replacement. The issue here isn't that Ziyech hasn't scored a goal this season and has only one assist in roughly half the number of minutes that Gordon has played. It's easy to assume that his talent is being mostly overlooked on Chelsea's bench. And if we want to look at the fancy stuff, last season Ziyech had a combined expected goals (xG) and expected goals assisted total of over 0.51, that's legitimately good for an attacking winger, and significantly ahead of where Gordon's 0.31 is this season.

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Everton's problem with aging players

The problem for Everton isn't that Ziyech won't be a good player for them. He very well might be. The problem is that even if he is a good player, he's still not the right fit. Chelsea want somewhere between £17 million and £20 million for him, according to recent reports, and he's also on about £100,000-per-week at Chelsea. None of that seems exorbitant. And it wouldn't be if Ziyech were 24, or even 26. But Hakim Ziyech is 29 years old. 

Even if this move were to work, and Ziyech were to perform well on an Everton side that's rescued from relegation, Ziyech would still be a player entering the declining years of his career on big-money contract with zero sell-on value. So while the cost of Ziyech seems reasonable, it's important to remember that by making the move Everton would also be locking themselves into replacing spending more money to replace him in two or three years, And while it's tempting to argue that you could develop your own talent to replace Ziyech, the guy who is most likely to do that is the one who, in this case, is getting sold to Newcastle creating the impetus for possibly buying Ziyech in the first place.

And it would be one thing if this was some special circumstance for Everton, an exception to the rule brought about by the extreme circumstances of a relegation battle they surprisingly find themselves in. But it's not. It is, in fact, the natural extension of the transfer policy that all too predictably landed them in this mess to begin with. Ziyech would be the fourth player this season who is 29 or older that Everton signed, following James Tarkowski, Connor Coady and the return of Idrissa Gueye. There were three more last season, and three others the season before that. I am, for the purposes of being generous with this assessment, leaving out backup keepers from the analysis.

The problem isn't that these players aren't good, necessarily. James Rodriguez and Allan were both 29 and still performing at a high level when Everton signed them before the 2021-22 season, joined by the 27-year-old Abdoulaye Doucoure. It led to one of Everton's more enjoyable first halves of a season in recent memory before injuries slowed the side down. The problem is that those moves necessitate more moves in short order, more money spent on top of the money spent, a constant churn of expensive 28-year-olds that eventually runs dry. That's why Everton dropped like a stone last season, when after years of spending, the spigot ran dry. It works until it doesn't, and then it really doesn't.

Everton need players that can contribute now and later

If Gordon is off to Newcastle like the reports suggest, then it's understandable for Everton to cash in, even in the middle of a relegation battle. But if this team is ever going to return to midtable, let alone challenging for European spots, it needs to spend that money on players that can help them now and later. Hakim Ziyech isn't it and if Everton don't figure that out soon, they're liable to end up relegated this season, and it could potentially be a long long time before they're back.