Todd Boehly’s tumultuous first transfer window as Chelsea owner brought all the fun and unpredictability of a man trying out Football Manager for the first time. Only Boehly does this at one of Europe’s leading football clubs in real time instead of on his laptop.
Star players have been secured, bold bids for astounding sums have been discussed and there are still a few days of this chaos left.
When Everton were warming up at Elland Road ahead of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Leeds and the news broke that Chelsea were planning a €90m move for RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol, it was easy to believe wondering where Anthony Gordon’s head might be once the whirlwind ends.
Chelsea were apparently willing to pay up to £60million to secure the services of the 21-year-old winger and ESPN reported their interest remained intact despite the many names that have surfaced in recent days.
If Gordon was distracted by fleeting gossip about his future, he certainly wasn’t showing it in West Yorkshire.
MORE: Leeds vs Everton result, highlights and analysis as points shared after Gordon opener at Elland Road
How many Premier League goals has Anthony Gordon scored?
These are tough times for Frank Lampard and Everton. Having secured their Premier League status in the last week of last season, they are without a win in five games this season. After a game in which Leeds boss Jesse Marsch, with some justification, highlighted the Toffees’ willingness to waste time from the start, Lampard praised the character of his team.
Central defenders Conor Coady and James Tarkowski were hailed as “throwback professionals” who “brilliantly influenced the dressing room”. Defensive discipline was the order of the day against high-pressure opponents.
“Can we be better on the ball? Certainly. It’s the next step for us,” Lampard said after a competition in which most of Everton’s incisive quality of possession came from one man.
Gordon launched the attack in the 17th minute that led to his first goal, with Dwight McNeil winning the second ball when the attacker was dispossessed. McNeil found Alex Iwobi who saw Gordon had continued his run and was firing towards the heart of the Leeds defense from the left. He grabbed the pass and landed coolly behind Illan Meslier.
He just had to be…
With his name in the headlines over a potential transfer, Anthony Gordon scores again for Everton ???? pic.twitter.com/9VSqTzofcH
– Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 30, 2022
Leeds made most of the running in the game, not least in a riotous 10-minute period after half-time which saw debutant Luis Sinisterra level. It was Gordon who kept Everton’s head above water.
His graceful handling of the ball was the guests’ only effective weapon to put the marching team behind. He engineered a through ball for Demarai Gray to convert, only to correctly go for a razor-thin offside against his fellow attacker.
After being pushed as an emergency attacker on the left wing earlier in the month, he released overlapping full-back Vitalii Mykolenko to parry a near post shot before switching wings and weighting a beautiful ball for Nathan Patterson. Only a fine Meslier save prevented Everton from stealing the points.
After scoring against Brentford, Gordon has shrunk anything but under the microscope of blockbuster transfer speculation. As evidenced by his finger-in-ear celebrations to goad Leeds fans and a generally pointed approach to proceedings, he is reveling in his new status.
But whether he really deserves it remains questionable. The goal at Elland Road was his sixth in 65 Premier League games. Gordon has scored a third of his senior goals in the past four days.
Is Anthony Gordon one of the Premier League’s best players in 2022/23?
Even discounting the relatively small sample size so far this season, it’s hard to prove that Gordon really belongs among the leaders in the division – a status a £60m asking price would suggest.
Including the chances created for Mykolenko and Patterson, he has created five chances in as many games and has yet to record an assist.
With 21 attempted dribbles, Gordon is a flashy runner with the ball that puts him fifth in the division alongside Gabriel Jesus. However, the Arsenal man has completed 12 to Gordon’s three.
There’s a decent argument that Gordon wasn’t even the most effective left winger to show at Elland Road. Leeds’ Jack Harrison has created 16 chances this season, the most in the Premier League, has three assists and has completed 11 of 24 dribbles.
However, the bigger picture showed Leeds had 69.5% possession and fired 12 shots on Everton’s three in the second half. Harrison plays on a team dedicated to Marsch’s well-defined and intense football.
Everton have the kind of squad to be expected from a club that has stumbled from crisis to crisis, consistently appointing managers to respond to the mistakes of their predecessors rather than seek continuity.
“We’re trying to do something here and we know it’s a process and it’s going to take time,” Lampard said.
“We know very well where we were last year and where we want to go. Can we trust and build on the good players we have and can we contribute to that?”
For Lampard, there’s no question that Gordon is, and shouldn’t be, a big part of that process. Whether or not he becomes an undisputed Premier League superstar, the homegrown striker is vital to Everton in their current plight.
He is this season’s top scorer, the only Everton man with an xG above one and has played every minute. He has won more fouls than any of his team-mates (seven) and recovered more than anyone (eight) in the bright pink shirts of the Leeds visitors.
What did Frank Lampard say about signing Anthony Gordon for Chelsea?
Arguably having to reach for the positives, Lampard has been unequivocal on Gordon’s future
“I am very confident [he will stay] and you’ve seen the reasons for that in the last two games – because he’s our player,” he said.
“He’s a very good player and he’ll get better. Adding goals to his game is the first step.”
“I am very satisfied with his performance and his attitude. He will have learned a lot in the last two weeks and grown a lot. This is only good for him. He’s a special player, we’re passionate about what he’s doing and we need to keep him on the same path. Stay in those positions, show that composure, keep working in the training. He does all these things, so it’s great.”
Lampard added that a self-imposed and unspecified deadline on whether Everton would accept offers from Chelsea or anyone else had already expired.
“Anthony is too good a player [to sell],” he said.
“He’s shown what he’s worth in the last two games. What good would it do us to do anything with Anthony?
“And by and large, he’s our player that we’ve developed. There is an affiliation with him and the fans and vice versa. That’s where I’m from and Anthony is clearly a top player because of the interest that is in him. That’s why we really want to keep him.”
As anyone who has watched the new Netflix documentary on Luis Figo’s explosive transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid will know, two days is a very long time in a transfer saga and Lampard’s words could still look unhappy when the window closes .
But as Gordon let his feet do the talking on Elland Road and turned some of the last few weeks’ mockery into newfound admiration, there was a feeling he was exactly where he needed to be, at least for the moment.