Running Out of Time: Why Everton Need to Sign a Striker Before the Transfer Window Slams Shut
The start of the 2017/18 season may not have been kind to Everton in fixture list terms, but the Toffees have not let such issues put them down.
Four victories and one draw have been attained from their five competitive outings, only one goal has been shipped, four Premier League points chalked up from two domestic clashes and a place in the Europa league group stages is almost assured.
A good start, then, to Ronald Koeman's second campaign at the helm of the Merseysiders.
For all the optimism that is swirling around Goodison Park, however, the Dutchman will still be irked by his inability to add a significant final piece to the jigsaw that is his first-team squad.
The departure of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United may have netted Everton a handsome £90m sum - though only £75m of which is up front - but it has deprived the Blues of the man who plundered 26 goals in all competitions last season.
Whether it is down to sheer luck or genuine quality, Everton haven't missed their former talisman's predatory instincts in front of goal. Five matches have yielded six goals and, with it, a sharing of strikes between five different goal scorers thus far.
RK: "I hope that our spending isn't done. If we want to make the next step, we need a left footed centre back and also a striker."— Everton Blue Army (@EvertonBlueArmy) August 21, 2017
Considering Koeman's constant comments about wishing to spread the goals around his squad on a more consistent basis last season, it will come as no surprise that he will have been left pleased by his charges' end product.
Koeman, though, will not want to go through the entire season on the back of slender one or two goal victories. Nor will he expect his current trio of first-team strikers to be the 20+ goals a season answer to the now Red Devil marksman.
For all his qualities, returning boyhood Blue Wayne Rooney cannot be expected to regularly find the back of net to match Lukaku's unrivalled Toffees stats from last term. The 31-year-old too will not begin every game as, despite his improved fitness levels, three matches every fortnight will take their toll on someone whose spent the past 15 seasons at the very highest level.
Emerging talent Dominic Calvert-Lewin too should not be relied upon too heavily for goals. The 20-year-old has a superb career to look forward to and will bag a decent haul in 17/18, but a regular starter who will fire Everton to trophy glory? Not just yet.
Rooney's fellow summer recruit Sandro Ramirez could be the man the Blues need to find the back of the net, but he will require time and patience to acclimatise to English football and find his feet in Koeman's system.
All of which leaves the 54-year-old will a huge dilemma. Attempts to land key targets Olivier Giroud, Christian Benteke and Nikola Kalinic have all failed thus far, and the Toffees have baulked at Benfica's ridiculous £46m asking price for out-of-favour frontman Raul Jimenez.
With only seven days left of the summer window, Koeman is in a race against time to persuade another regular goal-getter on his diminishing wish list that Everton is the place for them.
Failure to do so would be a massive blow to Everton's chances of truly vying for silverware and a top four spot, and ensure that the ghost of Lukaku will continue to loom large over Koeman and his squad.