Shani Tarashaj – Everton’s forgotten attacker

On 7 January 2016, Everton announced the signing of an exciting 21-year-old Kosovan-born Swiss forward from Grasshoppers called Shani Tarashaj. He had appeared in all eighteen of his side’s league games that season, contributing eight goals and an assist as a shadow striker playing in behind Israeli Munas Dabbur. He would return to Switzerland on loan for the rest of the season where he added another three goals to his tally helping guide Grasshoppers to a fourth place finish and a Europa League spot for the following campaign. He performed so well domestically that Vladimir Petković took him to France for that summer’s European Championships. He made a single substitute appearance against Romania as he saw his adopted nation eliminated by Poland on penalties.

And then his career just stopped.

ShaniTarashajFrankfurt
His time at Frankfurt wasn’t perfect, but it only got worse from there.

Tarashaj joined Eintracht Frankfurt on loan in the summer of 2016 after Everton signed Yannick Bolasie and Dominic Calvert-Lewin who were capable of playing in a similar role, but the alarm bells would have been ringing when Ronald Koeman decided he needed to bring in Enner Valencia on loan from West Ham on deadline day. Tarashaj struggled in Germany, making thirteen appearances all season in the league, with all but one coming from the bench. A 3-0 win over Hamburg was the only match in which he played more than 45 minutes. It was a game atypical of his time in Germany; it was the only time that season where he contributed either a goal or an assist, and it was the only game where he started on the left-wing, a position he’d never played in while at Grasshoppers.

ShaniTarashajGrasshoppers
Tarashaj was one of Grasshoppers best youth prospects for a generation, helping his side reach Europe in the season he impressed Everton’s scouts.

Petković decided to leave Tarashaj out of his first squad after EURO 2016, instead giving him the opportunity to join up with the Under-21s squad, before promoting him to the bench for the World Cup qualifier against Andorra. Tarashaj hasn’t been involved in the national team set-up since and with the emergence of other young talents such as Breel Embolo and players such as Haris Seferović, Josip Drmić and Admir Mehmedi impressing at club level, Tarashaj is now some way down the pecking order.

ShaniTarashajEverton

If 2016/17 was a step backwards for Shani Tarashaj, then this season has seen his career come to a complete standstill. A meniscus tear at the end of the season in Germany slowed his progress and made him an unappealing prospect for any potential summers in the summer. However, Everton then went on to sign Davy Klaassen, Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Sandro Ramirez, promoted Tom Davies from the Under-23s while he was away and this month brought in Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott too. It’s safe to say that Sam Allardyce’s most recent transfer activity does not bode well for Kosovan-born refugee.

To underline just how forgotten Tarashaj is, Wikipedia haven’t even updated his playing stats to include this season, Everton haven’t even given him a squad number this season, even though 46 other players at some point this season have been awarded one at some point during the campaign, and the last article to mention him when you search for his name was written in March 2017. (UPDATE: Liverpool Echo published a story 45 minutes before this went live, talk about good timing.)

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Tarashaj scored five goals in seven Under-21 appearances to earn a call-up to the first team, but a repeat of that feat looks a long way off right now.

While training with Switzerland in the lead up to EURO 2016, Tarashaj must have thought that the World Cup in Russia would be coming at the perfect time for him and a young, improving Swiss side. Instead, Tarashaj will very much be a spectator this summer, with his move to the Premier League being one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory.

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What if Gareth Southgate could only pick one England player from each club?

The World Cup is only a few short months away and already speculation is mounting over who Gareth Southgate will select in his England squad. This in itself is a tough enough job as Southgate has to try and balance youth and experience, flair and levelheadedness and technical and physical players. But, what if we made his job an awful lot harder? How would the squad shape up right now if you could only pick one player from each Premier League club. How would you set your team up when you can only pick one from Raheem Sterling, John Stones or Kyle Walker? Does Jesse Lingard or Marcus Rashford go to Russia? And would 2018 finally be the year we would see Steve Sidwell at a major international tournament? Here’s the squad that we selected, and if you want to have a go too, you can download our Selector right here. Once you’ve filled it in, take a screenshot and tweet it to us at @FTHalfwayLine.

Arsenal – Jack WilshereEngland v Portugal - International Friendly

Wilshere has been resurgent since returning to Arsenal’s starting line-up at West Ham in the middle of December. If he can stay fit until the summer (and it’s a big if) then Southgate is almost certain to give the central midfielder his first international call-up since England friendly against Spain in November 2016.

Bournemouth – Callum Wilson

Bournemouth have more English players to select from than any other team, and could offer cover in practically every position. For this squad, we’ve gone with Callum Wilson who has the potential to be an England international in the near future, even if injuries have plagued his top-flight career thus far.

Brighton – Lewis Dunk

Brighton fans have been calling on Dunk to receive an England call-up ever since their promotion to the Premier League and he’s the most suitable candidate out of his club teammates to be selected in this squad.

Burnley – James Tarkowski

James Tarkowski was patiently waiting in the wings last season at Burnley knowing that former teammate Michael Keane was likely to move on in the summer. His partnership with Ben Mee was the foundation on which Burnley’s fantastic early season form was built upon; six 1-0 wins so far this season shows just how important Tarkowski’s contribution was to their success.

Chelsea – Gary Cahill

One of only a few players who are guaranteed a place in Southgate’s starting XI when they face Tunisia on June 18th. Cahill’s comfortable playing in a back three or four and in a squad containing several promising but inexperienced centre-backs his role would be more important than ever.

Crystal Palace – Ruben Loftus-CheekRLoftusCheekEngland

Very few players would have made their international debuts against tougher opponents when Loftus-Cheek started against World Champions Germany, but in a Palace squad containing very few other viable England options, the exciting attacking midfielder gets the nod.

Everton – Jordan Pickford

Joe Hart’s capitulation at club level over the last one-and-a-half seasons has given Southgate a dilemma in between the sticks. Pickford will almost certainly be in his squad next summer and with Stoke’s Jack Butland also struggling to keep clean sheets (albeit playing behind a lacklustre defence) Pickford may just pick up the number 1 shirt this summer.

Huddersfield – Tom Ince

There’s very little to say about this selection when you look at the players available. Would likely be a squad player who would be given five minutes as England desperately search for an equaliser against Panama.

Leicester – Harry Maguire

Jamie Vardy and Demarai Gray were also viable choices from Leicester, but the combination of other players picked from rival clubs means its the centre-back that gets the nod. Maguire has been Leicester’s best defender this season, with his last-minute equaliser against Man United being the highlight of the year so far.

Liverpool – Adam Lallana

Liverpool’s squad has an English core running through the centre of the pitch and for this squad, Adam Lallana’s versatility means he narrowly gets the nod of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jordan Henderson.

Man City – Kyle Walker

England’s first choice right back is the player most crucial to the Three Lions team from Manchester City. John Stones and Raheem Sterling will almost certainly start games in Russia for Southgate, but the lack of available alternatives at full-back make Walker indispensable to this squad.

Man United – Marcus RashfordMarcusRashfordEngland

Rashford hasn’t been playing at the level we know he’s capable of but his ability to play anywhere across the front line and change a game from the bench is what gives him the edge over Jesse Lingard in this squad, who on current form is the better player.

Newcastle – Jamaal Lascelles

Another young centre back tipped to make the step up to the England squad soon, anything good that Newcastle have done this season has involved Lascelles and it’s no surprise that the Magpies picked up just one point when he wasn’t in the starting line-up between November and the start of December while he was injured.

Southampton – Ryan Bertrand

Danny Rose’s inability to displace Ben Davies in Tottenham’s team means Bertrand is the favourite to play on the left for England this summer at the time of writing. Coupled with Fraser Forster’s dip in form and no other standout candidates in the Saints’ squad, Ryan Bertrand offers the most value from the options available.

Stoke – Jack Butland

A simple enough choice given Butland is the only member of the Stoke squad currently involved in the England setup and is likely to be competing with Pickford to be Southgate’s first choice this summer, although I’m sure no one would be against seeing Peter Crouch in an England shirt one more time.

Swansea – Tammy Abraham

Alfie Mawson is the young English centre-back that misses out across this selection process, with Tammy Abraham emerging as the only alternative in a weak Swansea squad.

Tottenham – Harry KaneHarryKaneEngland

Without doubt England’s most important player this summer, but his selection means the likes of Alli, Dier, Rose, Trippier and Winks are all miss out. Suddenly bringing together a group of exciting young English talent looks like a terrible decision from Pochettino.

Watford – Nathaniel Chalobah

Nathaniel Chalobah slotted into Watford’s side as a holding midfielder immediately after being brought in from Chelsea in the summer and impressed before picking up an injury. His defensive attributes make him a better option than compatriots Will Hughes and Tom Cleverley in this squad.

West Brom – Kieran Gibbs

With Pickford and Butland already in the squad, a third choice ‘keeper is a waste of a pick from one of the Premier League teams, so Ben Foster misses out. Kieran Gibbs offers slightly more value as a full-back who can play on either side than Jake Livermore or Jay Rodriguez.

West Ham – Michail Antonio

The selections made so far have made one thing clear; if you’re capable of playing in multiple positions, you have a better chance of being selected and Antonio typifies this. Andy Carroll is the other potential candidate from the Hammers, but with Wilson, Abraham, Rashford and Kane already in the squad, a fifth forward would leave England very thin in other areas.

Wildcards – John Ruddy (Wolves), Luke Ayling (Leeds), Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)

Now, World Cup squads are made up of 23 players, which means Southgate would have to look towards the Championship for his final three selections. A third choice goalkeeper is needed, and Wolves’ John Ruddy already has 14 clean sheets to his name in 26 league games and so looks like the obvious candidate. The squad is short of a right-back behind Kyle Walker, so Leeds United’s Luke Ayling is brought in as cover, while Ryan Sessegnon offers you an option on the left hand side either as an attacking full-back or in a more attacking wide left position which he’s much more suited to.

So, do you think you can do any better? Click here to download our Selector (it’s only an Excel spreadsheet, nothing dodgy I promise!) and let us know via Twitter (@FTHalfwayLine) how you would set up this summer.