Everton should be prioritising the signings of a new left-back and centre-half according to former defender Michael Ball, who does not see the logic behind the capture of Theo Walcott from Arsenal if the Toffees continue to play in the same agricultural approach they have adopted under Sam Allardyce.
The Merseysiders embarked on a major summer recruitment drive but failed to draft in cover for Leighton Baines, who has missed almost two months with a troublesome calf problem. Cuco Martina has deputised for the 33-year-old in recent weeks, but the former Southampton defender certainly isn't a long-term solution for a position that has developed into a real issue at Goodison Park.
Ball, who played at left-back for five years at Everton, believes Allardyce's side are in desperate need of left-sided players in general and is hoping to see his boyhood club learn from their summer mistakes and not waste time on other deals like they did when they signed Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea City.
"The transfer window is open and any left-sided players should be welcome, we need balance in the team," Ball wrote in his column for The Liverpool Echo. "Left-sided defenders especially are a must – a left-back and probably a centre-back as well.
"These are positions that need prioritising. There are rumours about Theo Walcott possibly coming in and I'd just be wary of going down the same avenue we did in the summer.
"We wasted weeks of negotiation to bring in Gylfi Sigurdsson and then by the time that was done there was no time to get anyone else over the line – when we still needed a left-back and a centre half at least.
"I hope that, whilst they're in discussions with Walcott, they've got other players lined up because we have other wingers."
Allardyce has admitted that a new left-back is a priority this month and is said to be keen to run the rule over Luke Garbutt, who was not registered in Everton's Premier League squad by former manager Ronald Koeman at the start of the season.
Lille defender Adama Soumaoro is also an option for the Toffees. The 25-year-old is valued at around £18m by the French outfit, who need to sell in order to comply with Financial Fair Play, and can play at centre-half or left-back.
Everton may move for the 25-year-old in the coming weeks, but their current transfer focus rests on Walcott, who is close to finalising his £20m move to Goodison Park.
The 28-year-old is in Merseyside to sort out personal terms and undergo a medical, and while Ball is hoping the 47-time England international can revitalise his career under Allardyce, he cannot see the logic behind prioritising a move for Walcott over a left-back.
"Walcott is probably better than we have at this moment in time, but we need to be filling up other positions first. He would obviously improve us, that's a no-brainer, but if we bring him in and continue in the style we are then what's the point?" Ball said.
"With the amount of money we've spent I feel we have gone backwards. When you have money, you've got to be clever with it as well.
"Everton could give Walcott a new lease of life, but I just find it strange that we're searching for someone in that position when our weaknesses are clearly down the left-hand side and perhaps another striker."
"Only time will tell, but left-sided players should certainly be a priority."