Leon Osman says Everton have pulled off an “incredible coup” by bringing Theo Walcott to Goodison Park – and expects the England international to help bring the best out of his Toffees’ attacking colleagues.
Walcott ended 12 years with Arsenal to move to Everton in January, with Sam Allardyce hailing the capture of a player possessing the tools to inject “goals, pace and excitement” into his side.
Manager Allardyce also expressed a hope that his new signing would “hit the ground running” – and saw his wish granted when Walcott scored twice and assisted another goal in the course of his first two matches for the Club.
The England international forward supplied an equalising strike for Oumar Niasse on his debut against West Bromwich Albion, and followed up that contribution by putting Leicester City to the sword with two expertly-taken goals on his second Everton appearance.
Walcott was in similarly coruscating form in the victory over Crystal Palace last month, when his mobility and direct running were major factors in the Blues' 3-1 success.
Gylfi Sigurdsson and Tom Davies were also standout performers against Roy Hodgson's Eagles – with Icelander Sigurdsson getting on the scoresheet and then laying on midfielder Davies’ first goal of the campaign.
Walcott swarmed all over Palace – embarking on eight dribbles and having 63 touches of the ball. And former Everton midfielder Osman is excited about the Toffees’ prospects once their new-look attacking unit is operating completely in-sync.
“Theo has had a great start to his Everton career and he brings an awful lot to the team,” Osman told evertonfc.com.
“He provides a huge threat in behind the opposition and that suddenly gives them something different to think about. If he is going to be running behind they have to drop off, which gives Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Tom Davies a bit more room to play in. Those pockets are difficult to get in but those three players are finding more space now.
“And Sigurdsson and Rooney have more to aim for with their passing, the opportunity to play a through ball in behind rather than everything having to be in to feet.
“Any signing gives the team a lift – but one of the calibre of Theo Walcott? It is an incredible coup for the Club.
“As a player in that squad – the likes of Rooney, Sigurdsson and Davies, in particular, the players who pick out passes – Theo gives you a real opportunity to thread through balls and the key passes which ultimately unlock defences.”
Walcott, who pointed to the opportunity to work with Allardyce and figure in the manager's ambitious plans as a prime motivating factor in his decision to join Everton, was the third-highest scoring Englishman in all competitions last term, with only celebrated Tottenham Hotspur duo Harry Kane and Dele Ali topping the 28-year-old’s 19 strikes.
He contributed directly to 108 goals in 270 Premier League matches for Arsenal, scoring 65 and assisting 43 – and won three FA Cups with the north London club.
All off which led Allardyce to laud his Club’s powerbrokers for striking an “exceptionally good value-for-money” deal when they wrested Walcott from the Gunners' grasp.
Osman also believes Everton have got themselves a bargain in a player who has played 47 times for his country – and won his first Three Lions cap before his 18th birthday.
Furthermore, Osman, who was twice capped by England, expects Walcott’s bravery and confidence to rub off on his teammates. Spurred by Walcott’s adventure, the Toffees attempted 28 dribbles in the encounter with Palace. Equally, the winger sends in more than four crosses per match, with Everton’s average number of deliveries across 90 minutes consequently rising to 15.7 for the season, so far.
“Theo’s attributes – he has pace, good close control and can run at opponents – buy the team another yard of space on the ball and another second of time,” said Osman, who scored 56 goals in his 13-year, 427-game Everton career.
"That gives players like Tom Davies the opportunity to use that time well, and sometimes, perhaps, try to do something a bit different.
“The width Theo offers is a great asset, too, especially when you have Sigurdsson playing fairly narrow off the other side.
“You have Yannick Bolasie who provides width as well. But Yannick is a different type of player from Theo. He wants the ball at his feet and to run at people.
“Theo will take the ball to feet or in behind and it is far more difficult for full-backs when a wide player offers both options.
“When you consider, he is a 28-year-old who was playing Champions League football year in, year out for more than 10 years, he has FA Cup winners’ medals – and what is out there and the way the market has swelled – he is absolutely great value.”