A large portion of 2020 for Everton was dominated by one transfer saga.

It was clear the club were in the hunt for a new centre-back in the summer, and it seemed that Lille star Gabriel Magalhaes would be the man to step into the role.

The Blues had, before the coronavirus pandemic struck, even made some progress in their attempts to sign the defender – but things changed as the year went on.

Everton had a price that they were not willing to go over, but it was not good enough to secure the services of the centre-back. And so, they decided to walk away from any deal – having seen interest from the likes of Chelsea, Napoli, Manchester United and Arsenal complicate matters.

Instead, the Blues turned to a younger and more domestic option – picking up Ben Godfrey from Norwich City for £20m just before the summer window closed.

And from that point, they’ve hardly looked back.

While the 23-year-old has proven himself a brilliant and versatile option for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, solidifying himself in the side despite strong competition, fans have forgotten about the man they almost signed.

Perhaps, if the pandemic hadn’t have taken hold, then Evertonians would have been watching Gabriel rather than Godfrey at the heart of their defence.

Instead, the Brazilian eventually chose to join Arsenal after his protracted transfer saga, with his latest match coming against Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening.

Everton supporters who tuned in, if they didn’t already, ended the match knowing that their club had got the better end of the deal from the summer’s transfer saga.

The Gunners fell to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Jurgen Klopp’s side and as a collective didn’t stand up to the visitors throughout the 90 minutes.

However, a particular mistake from Gabriel, giving the ball away in his own half in the build-up to Liverpool’s third, was enough to put the cherry on the cake for Blues supporters.

Of course, many Evertonians who didn’t even watch Saturday’s game will have the same attitude. In fact, they could feel the same way about Godfrey without even watching Arsenal kick a ball this season.

We’ll never know how the Gunners man might have performed if he had moved to Goodison Park rather than north London. Perhaps it would have been a hugely successful transfer, perhaps not.

But what Blues fans can see is just how well Godfrey has fit into the side.

The 23-year-old joined from Norwich and could have easily considered himself to be the fourth-choice option in a competitive battle for two centre-back slots in Ancelotti’s setup.

Now, though, he’s one of the first names on the teamsheet – whichever position he plays.

Godfrey first made his breakthrough as a stand-in left back while Lucas Digne was injured, with his attitude and defensive capabilities on full display throughout each performance.

It’s almost become a staple of any Blues performance to see at least one lung-busting run from the summer signing, pacing down the flank.

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Or, very often, there’s a crunching and fair tackle – usually on the edge of his own box. Just ask Xherdan Shaqiri about Godfrey’s desire for those.

Now he’s being used much more in his natural position in the heart of central defence and is clearly thriving, showing why Everton invested so much money in his services in the summer.

Comparing his statistics with that of Gabriel’s in the Premier League so far this term is further evidence as to why the Blues made exactly the right decision in the summer.

Godfrey has made 1.6 tackles per game in the top division compared to 1.1 for the Arsenal man.

He makes less fouls than the Brazilian, with 0.4 per match rather than an average of 0.9 for the star based in north London.

The Everton man makes more clearances (3.2 rather than 2.9) and more blocks (1.2 to 0.9) than the Gunners defender has managed per game so far this term.

All of this should go down as praise for a transfer decision proven exactly right by Everton’s key decision makers.

Ancelotti worked closely with Marcel Brands throughout the summer to pick out the right targets which would improve the Blues, and that has certainly been the case not least with Godfrey.

It seemed for a long time that the preferred option was Gabriel. At one stage it might have even seemed like the Brazilian was the only individual on the list.

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But, that clearly wasn’t the case, and the Blues played their hand expertly.

Rather than paying over the odds, they were willing to let a long-term target go to a side now considered to be a rival in the Premier League – instead looking to another player to fit into their side.

It was a risk, but it was a calculated one. And clearly it’s paid off.

Not only have Everton picked up a quality player in Godfrey, but they’ve got someone who has instantly connected with the club’s supporters thanks to his attitude and dedication.

That’s not an easy feat.

Perhaps Gabriel might have done the same if the pandemic hadn’t have occurred, and the Blues would be delighted with having the Brazilian as part of their ranks.

But you won’t find anyone in royal blue wishing for that.

Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

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