Gylfi Sigurdsson’s talent has never been doubted.
At his best, the Icelander is capable of what can only be described as magic. Sublime assists, set pieces and more than his fair share of long-distance goals and free kicks form an impressive highlights reel.
But the reality is, he’s struggled for Everton since arriving in 2017 for a club record £45 million.
Sigurdsson made a name for himself on loan at Swansea, recording seven goals and four assists in 18 games, before returning to the Premier League from Hoffenheim with Tottenham Hotspur.
He struggled at Spurs in way not too dissimilar to how he is coping at Everton, rarely having much of an impact, before returning to Swansea in July 2014.
Again, Sigurdsson excelled at The Swans, scoring important goals such a glorious free kick against Arsenal in 2014. He set up the first and scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Manchester United.
He played well enough to secure his Everton move, with the fact that Swansea were relegated the following year a testament to his ability.
Since Lukaku, and to a lesser extent Barkley, left for bigger things, Everton have struggled to implement a potent strike force. Sigurdsson has undeniably struggled to play his part in filling that void, and at times it is difficult to put the finger on where he’s going wrong.
The Icelander is often guilty of drifting his way through games, not contributing what number tens, such as Kevin De Bruyne for Manchester City, do for their clubs.
At Swansea he was the main man. With less possession that any of his other clubs, they needed moments of magic tailor-made for Sigurdsson’s sporadic style – thus he thrived.
At Everton, and arguably at Spurs, he has been a victim of a variety of styles. Koeman and Allardyce’s methodical, soporific system often meant the ball bypassed Sigurdsson. Also, he was occasionally be shunted out wide, a position he never showed any aptitude for.
You could argue that he’s a victim of circumstance, and that he time at Merseyside has simply coincided for a tepid last couple of years for the Blues. But still, you’d expect more than he has offered.
There have been sparks. Flashes of brilliance that prove he’s worthy of the shirt – a stunner away at Leicester last season comes to mind, or a long-range effort against West Ham earlier in the season. But Evertonians look to their number 10 to gain a stranglehold on games, to influence proceedings and ultimately be the game-changer.
With more onus on his skillset to provide results with the ball under Marco Silva, last season was his best in terms of numbers, finishing as the club’s top scorer with 14 goals.
The tools were there should Marco Silva have opted to build the team around the playmaker going into the current campaign, but after a dire start to the season the Icelandic has again tailed off and floundered for consistency.
To play for Everton an occasion wonder goal or free kick is simply not enough to warrant a secure spot in the team. It is that inconsistency, coupled with the arrival of new manager Carlo Ancelotti, that has led to discussion over whether his time at Goodison is up.