Like a newbie at the gym, a tin-ribbed Everton, clad in baggy vest with protein bar in hand, would spectate from the sides as rivals with financial muscle they could only dream of wielded their fiscal force to attract whomever they wished.
Years they wasted attempting to reach their contemporaries’ monetary stature through organic, honest methods, but when the opportunity to take an Iranian super-bulking injection arose at the end of winter, the Toffees didn’t hesitate and, in just a few short months, had developed a beach body to woo any top level footballer right in time for summer.
It is expected the Merseysiders will indulge in excessive flexing of their new-found power during pre-season as they look to build a squad capable of finishing in the Premier League’s top four and these preconceptions have opened the floor for transfer rumourologists to speculate wildly.
With carte blanche on who they can link with a Goodison Park switch, their opening gambit is a good one – Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
It’s said that incoming Citizens boss Pep Guaridola doesn’t want the England international and will allow him to leave the Etihad for £40m.
The prospect of paying such a sum of money would’ve sent the flyweight Everton of old into a dizzy spell, but to the stacked Toffees of today, well, forking out the figure comes as easy as Geoff Capes finds towing a car.
But while they can pay the money, doing so may not be the smartest move.
Sure, Hart’s an excellent goalkeeper and Everton are in need of one of those in light of Tim Howard’s departure, but they’ve fared better in recent seasons when they’ve abstained from Manchester shopping sprees.
The Toffees have taken plenty of unwanted property from both City and neighbours Manchester United, but this decade has seen an improvement in league positions when they’ve sold stars to one of the duo.
This season saw former United prospect Tom Cleverley arrive following the expiration of his Old Trafford contract – an 11th-place finish followed.
It was the same standing they recorded 12 months earlier following their £2m acquisition of veteran midfielder Gareth Barry, whose transfer came after a successful loan spell at the club in 2013/14.
This was a season in which they didn’t make any permanent transfers from either Manchester outfit, but they did make £27.5m selling Marouane Fellaini to United – they finished fifth to match their league placing from 2012/13.
In the weeks that preceded the campaign in question Everton sold fragile prodigy Jack Rodwell to City for £12m.
A price of 200/1 says Everton win the 2016/17 Premier League and, based on the above, refraining from this mega-money Hart move will give them a better chance of realising it.