After securing survival by the skin of their teeth in each of their last two seasons, the hope had been that Everton would be able to enjoy a far smoother ride this time around under the stable guidance of Sean Dyche.
As it has proved so far, however, it looks as if the Goodison faithful are in for another frustrating, nail-biting campaign having picked up just a solitary point from their opening five Premier League games, while also only narrowly scraping past Doncaster Rovers in the League Cup last month.
While a change in ownership looks to be on the horizon, the Toffees still appear to be suffering from the at-times scattergun approach of Farhad Moshiri in the transfer market, with far too many additions having failed to work out in recent years.
The Merseysiders, for instance, notably signed Brazilian midfielder Allan during Carlo Ancelotti’s time in charge for a fee of around £21m, only to then see the experienced asset depart on a free transfer last summer after just two years in English football.
Another of Ancelotti’s signings that has also failed to truly work out is that of versatile defender, Ben Godfrey, with the 25-year-old having seen his valuation plummet since signing just under three years ago.
Why did Everton sign Ben Godfrey?
The York-born powerhouse appeared to be a worthy capture at the time of his arrival back in 2020, having previously starred for his previous employers Norwich City, both in the second tier and in the Premier League.
Having helped the Canaries to promotion from the Championship in 2018/19 – after making 31 league appearances that season, scoring four goals – the towering centre-back again caught the eye the following campaign, despite his side eventually slipping to relegation.
The suggestion at the time was that the emerging talent was even being recommended to Manchester United by former Red Devils star, Rio Ferdinand, a player who Godfrey has repeatedly been likened to.
That comparison was made by Richard Cresswell – who was head of football operations at the defender’s hometown club York City – when discussing Godfrey’s early impression at youth level:
“By his second year Jonathan Greening had taken over as youth-team coach. He’d played with Rio Ferdinand and he said to me, ‘I can see him playing at the highest level at the back, there are so many similarities to Rio it’s ridiculous’.”
Ben Godfrey’s 2019/20 Premier League season (Norwich)
30 games (all starts)
1.5 tackles and interceptions (per game)
2 clean sheets
60% total duels won
88% pass accuracy rate
6.76 avg. match rating
Stats via Sofascore
Such glowing reports likely caught the attention of Ancelotti and co, hence Everton eventually making their move in October 2020.
How much did Everton pay for Ben Godfrey?
Signed off the back of his first season in the top-flight with Norwich, Godfrey commanded a rather sizeable fee of £20m, joining the likes of James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure in being snapped up by the Toffees during that summer window.
As per Sky Sports, the Englishman hadn’t actually been Ancelotti’s first-choice target at the time with the Italian instead favouring a loan move for Chelsea’s Fikayo Tomori, only to shift focus once a deal for the current AC Milan man became ‘increasingly unlikely’.
In hindsight, that inability to land Tomori – who has since won the Serie A title in Italy – may appear a notable mistake, particularly with Godfrey having hardly set the world alight at Goodison in recent years.
As writer Peter Guy noted earlier this year, it had looked as if Everton had signed a “monster” by snapping up the youngster from Carrow Road, although he is now “looking more of a bust every week”, such have been his woes amid the club’s collective struggles.
What is Ben Godfrey worth now?
That assessment by Guy appears even more apt considering the tumble that Godfrey’s valuation has taken of late, with CIES Football Observatory stating that the £75k-per-week dud is now worth just €5m (£4m).
Such a lowly value represents a decline of roughly £16m in relation to the defender’s initial cost, with the Toffees unlikely to be able to recoup much in the way of funds if they are to sell the two-cap England international any time soon.
With just two years left on his current deal on Merseyside, there had even been reports over the summer that Dyche and co would be open to letting the one-time Shrewsbury Town loanee depart, such has been his fall down the pecking order.
While Godfrey ultimately stayed put with the likes of Conor Coady, Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate all departing, the £4m-rated man has found himself on the periphery this season after making just a solitary league appearance, having fallen behind Jarrad Branthwaite in the defensive pecking order.
What has gone wrong for Godfrey at Everton?
Despite starting 52 league games across his first two seasons at Goodison, Godfrey appears to have been hampered by the injury setback that he suffered last term, having been restricted to just ten top-flight starts in 2022/23.
With strength in depth at centre-back, a further issue for the Yorkshireman has been the fact that he has been forced to line up at full-back when he has featured in recent times, with such a makeshift role having looked unsuited of late.
That was particularly evident in the defeat to Man United at Old Trafford back in April, with Godfrey having endured a torrid time up against Antony in his left-back berth, before being hooked at half-time.
As talkSPORT’s Stuart Pearce stated at the time, the defender was simply having a “disaster” due to his “awful defending” on the day, with that outing demonstrating that he is not the answer at either left-back or right-back.
Not that Godfrey has particularly taken his chance when deployed at centre-back, however, having also underwhelmed in the win over Doncaster, with the Liverpool Echo’s Connor O’Neill writing that he ‘struggled in possession and was guilty of giving away needless fouls’.
To have been so disappointing against lower-league opposition only further illustrates the 25-year-old’s decline of late, with Everton – and former boss Ancelotti – having perhaps had a nightmare by signing the player three years ago.