In the summer of 2017, Everton went on a transfer splurge which, in the end, proved unsuccessful.
Everton struggled that campaign, eventually sacking Ronald Koeman and his replacement Sam Allardyce only lasted until the end of the campaign.
One area in which Everton over-subscribed that summer was in attacking midfield.
Everton spent big money on Davy Klaassen and Gylfi Sigurdsson whilst they signed Wayne Rooney on a free transfer. All three players wanted to play in the same role. Come the end of the season, it was Sigurdsson who prevailed. Klaassen and Rooney were moved on.
But it seems that the fourth number 10 that Everton signed that summer was the one they should have had faith in.
Everton snapped up Croatian talent Nikola Vlasic in August after he impressed for Hajduk Split in a Europa League qualifier. As reported by the BBC, Everton spent £10 million to bring him to Goodison Park.
But he never truly got a chance to shine on Merseyside. Despite impressing in sporadic appearances under Koeman, he was forgotten about when the Dutchman was replaced.
Indeed, Vlasic slammed Allardyce’s style of play and management in an interview with Sportske Novosti in January, calling it ‘awful’.
Vlasic was then loaned out to CSKA Moscow, a deal that was made permanent for £14 million (BBC) in the summer.
He has been in fine form in Russia and last season impressed in the Champions League, scoring against Real Madrid.
“Everything changed after (Ronald) Koeman left.
The football played under Big Sam was awful, if it could even be called football.
In such football, I do not have a place…”
This season he has started the campaign in great form and his goal for Croatia against Wales in midweek took his tally for the season to seven goals in 18 games for club and country.
Meanwhile, Everton’s Icelandic playmaker remains Marco Silva’s blindspot, inexplicably chosen week-in and week-out despite a never-ending spell of sub-par displays.
By the time Vlasic left Everton, it seemed inevitable. Too many people had not shown faith in the player and he was ready to leave.
Clearly, in hindsight, he was the attacking midfielder Everton should have pushed to the moon back in 2017.