It is Everton’s £50m question. Take the money for Anthony Gordon and reinvest or put their faith in a prodigious homegrown talent who has become a favourite of the Goodison Park faithful?
The Toffees have seen this one before. Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley both came through the club’s academy only to be prised away, with differing degrees of success.
Chelsea are now pursuing 21-year-old Gordon, for whom Everton have rejected two offers, the latter a bid of around £45m.
“It would be a blow to Everton but if you’re getting £50m to then buy again, why not do the deal?” said former Premier League defender Jonathan Woodgate on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I think £50m for Anthony Gordon would be an incredible deal.”
Frank Lampard said he could not assure fans of anything before the end of the window, but what was clear during their 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest on Saturday was – with or without Gordon – his squad needs attacking reinforcements.
“When we create 19 chances at home, when we had the quality of chances we had, it is very difficult to gain control and real confidence in a game when we are not taking those,” said Lampard, after his side earned their first point of the season.
“To be more clinical, we need to find those moments and be ruthless on them – some players have that by nature, some not so much. You need someone with a bit of composure in that moment to be clinical.”
Gordon is yet to get off the mark this term but scored four times and provided two assists in 35 Premier League games last season as Everton battled against relegation, getting the winner against Manchester United in April.
Then he was used predominantly on either flank, but with Dominic Calvert-Lewin injured and Richarlison joining Tottenham earlier in the summer, the Toffees’ lack of centre forward options meant Gordon started their opening two defeats as the focal point in attack.
On Saturday, that berth was Salomon Rondon’s, with Gordon and goalscorer Demarai Gray either side.
There was a sense of anticipation around Goodison when space opened up for the in-demand winger in the first half and he forced Dean Henderson into a flying save with an effort from range, while the youngster also failed to lift a late chance over the Forest goalkeeper.
“Can Everton afford to let a player with Anthony Gordon’s energy go? Everton need players like him to stay in the Premier league,” said ex-Chelsea striker Carlton Cole on 5 Live.
Gordon had five of Everton’s eight shots on target, the most from any Toffees player in the Premier League without scoring since those stats began being recorded in 2003-04, and he has had 10 attempts this season, the most in the Premier League.
“I don’t see how Everton could accept it,” said former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports about another potential Chelsea bid.
“He is the one big hope, They need attacking players coming and he is the one fans are hanging their hats on. Everton just can’t accept that.”
In his pre-match news conference, Lampard talked up Gordon’s value to the club and affinity with fans, as a local boy who joined the Toffees after his release from neighbours Liverpool aged 11.
“Anthony is our player. We are not looking at it in a situation of ‘where can we go with this deal?’,” said Lampard, also refusing to entertain the idea of a cash-plus-player deal.
“We have to look at it as Gordon is a great player for us. We have developed a player, which is a big deal. We know his value. He is a big player for me. I don’t want to think about ‘what about that player?'”
But 5 Live commentator Ian Dennis suggests that might suit them, saying: “Everton need a goalscorer. If it meant that Everton were to get, say, £50m for him and then maybe a player on loan from Chelsea and it benefited Everton, then you have to say it would be the right deal for them.
“If you’re not going to get the goals, then they’re going to be once again fighting relegation – so Everton need to address scoring goals between now and 1 September.”
Would Chelsea be a good fit for Gordon?
There is also the question of whether Gordon would want to make a switch to Stamford Bridge, and whether such a move would be good for his progress.
“There is nothing screaming he is going to be a top man and that is a lot of money,” said Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness.
Chelsea have developed and bought promising young players of their own only for those hopefuls to not be afforded game time or move elsewhere.
Not all young players’ trajectories are linear, but winger Callum Hudson-Odoi was born just three months earlier than Gordon and won the first of his three England caps more than a year before his Everton counterpart made his Premier League debut.
Yet, in part due to an Achilles problem he had last season, he has not featured for Thomas Tuchel’s side since March and a player courted by Bayern Munich two years ago looks set to be loaned out before the window closes on 1 September.
Another comparison is Barkley, who joined Chelsea five seasons ago but is yet to ignite his Blues career, spending the 2020-21 campaign on loan at Aston Villa and getting just 175 minutes of Premier League action back at his parent club last term.
“Is Gordon going to get in starting 11?” former Chelsea goalkeeper Rob Green told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I think the money could do better elsewhere.
“I don’t see him starting regularly this season. Playing at Everton, where he is passionate about the club, would be better for him.
“Look at Hudson-Odoi, he could have gone to Bayern, now he’s getting lost in the system. It would be a worrying signing for some of the youngsters at Chelsea, and I’m not sure about it for him.”