Everton had a busy transfer market this summer, bringing in eight new faces. However, there was still one massive, gaping, Lukaku-sized hole that the Toffees have failed to fill.
Rooney, Sandro Ramirez and the ever-improving Calvert-Lewin have all shown what they can offer going forward, but it was clear from Everton’s recent run of defeats, in which they failed to score a single goal in four games, that they still need another out-and-out striker.
With the transfer window shut until January, Koeman looked resigned to the fact there would be no further new faces leading his front line this season…..or would there? Step forward the man with no locker, the enigma, the one and only Oumar Niasse.
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?? A well-taken goal, Oumar! #EFCmatchday pic.twitter.com/Un3wJMswKR
— Everton (@Everton) September 20, 2017
Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Sunderland in the Carabao Cup, (yes, another new name this season for the League Cup, only Cheryl Cole has had more name changes) was Niasse’s first senior appearance in over a year for the Toffees.
Let’s rewind back to January 2016. The Senegalese striker signed for Everton from Lokomotive Moscow for £13.5m, to offer support for the main man at the time Romelu Lukaku. Sadly, things didn’t start well for Niasse, and this was maybe a sign of the things to come.
There were initial fitness concerns. He last played for Lokomotiv on the 10th December 2015, before the Russian break, while he had also undergone a wrist operation before his move. His match fitness was low and would deteriorate further, as the then Everton manager Roberto Martínez continued to initially overlook him.
Niasse’s first league appearance for the Toffees didn’t come until the 1st March 2016, from the bench against Aston Villa. Whilst his first start did not come until the 30th April, in the home win over Bournemouth.
In all, Niasse started just two games and made three substitute appearances for Everton in the league that season.
Unsurprisingly, he stunk. He scored no goals and made no assists. In fact, I am not even sure he controlled a ball.
It’s worth noting that us football fans can be a fickle bunch at times. Quite often deciding on a player’s quality and indeed status at the club within a one or if we are feeling generous – two game. Niasse was deemed a laughing stock very early on, some considered him Everton’s worst signing of the Premier League era.
Lucky for him, Everton have signed the likes of Per Kroldrup and Mickael Madar in that time, so he’s escaped that honour comfortably…for now. It is also worth remembering that hitting the ground running doesn’t always guarantee a successful career, especially at Everton.
⏪ | Missed the game? Or want to watch back the goals that put us through to Round Four of the @Carabao_Cup?
Here you go… #EFC pic.twitter.com/GSeFjcM7EK
— Everton (@Everton) September 20, 2017
Andy Johnson, considered somewhat of an Everton cult hero, and yes, ‘the Johnson Derby’ warrants that somewhat, *tilts hat* thanks again Mr Johnson. But, would it surprise you to know he only scored 17 goals in 61 appearances?
Jelavic was another held in high esteem early on, and sure the 11 goals from his debut in January 2012 to May 2012 played a large part of that. But once again, Jelavic struggled to maintain his blistering form and eventually left Everton in 2014 making 59 appearances and scoring just 16 goals.
On the other hand, given time and patience, that shabby seed can grow into an elegant flower of a player. Leighton Baines, who warrants the term a modern-day Everton great, took time to settle.
In his first season, Baines started just 13 games and made nine substitute appearances. One of the Premier League’s all-time record assist holders, managed just one set-up all season that year. What about another recent Everton star?
Anybody remember this date, 22nd October 2009? Don’t worry if you don’t, because I didn’t, I googled that sh*t. But what I do remember is the 5-0 drumming handed to Everton in the Europa League by Benfica in Lisbon.
Seamus Coleman made his debut that night, and I’ll be honest, he had a stinker.
At fault for losing his man on the first goal, things never got much better for the youngster and it left many Evertonians stating he would never play in blue again if they were manager.
Lucky for them, they weren’t. Three days later in his Goodison Park debut, a Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur, Coleman was named Man of the Match after coming on as a first-half substitute for the injured Joseph Yobo, playing an instrumental part for both of Everton’s goals in a 2–2 draw. The rest as they say is history…
I’m not saying Niasse will turn into an Everton great, in fact I am not even saying he will turn out to be a real footballer, but let’s look at some facts.
Oumar came into a team rotten to the core. The dressing room was lost, results were terrible, Everton won just five league games in the remaining second half of the 2015/16 season. They finished 11th in the league.
How much influence can a striker coming over from Russia, in his first season, make in period such as that one? Martinez finally lost his job after a run of terrible results, which included defeats to West Ham, Arsenal, Manchester United, as well as humiliations to Liverpool, Leicester and even f**king Sunderland. F**king Sunderland!
No disrespect to Sunderland, great club, but they were very poor in their final Premier League years. What a terrible time that was. Anyway, in came Ronald Koeman, new season on the horizon… was it to be a new start for Mr Niasse?
No. Not even a little. In fact, things somehow got worse for the Senegalese man. Having seen Niasse feature for just 45 minutes in a single pre-season fixture, Koeman quickly decided there was no place for him at Everton.
In typically brutal Koeman fashion, Ronald told the media last summer: ”We have enough strikers and different strikers to what he is. I prefer these people and not Niasse in the team.”
Niasse wasn’t given a squad number and notoriously, wasn’t even afforded a locker for that season.
Oumar spent the first half of the 2016/17 season with Everton U23’s, scoring an impressive 7 goals in 5 games. Then in January a lifeline was thrown his way, Hull City brought him in on loan to help bring some potential fire power to their imminent relegation battle.
Making 19 appearances for Hull (only 12 of which were starts) he scored five times and even assisted one. Not a record that will blow you away, but a goal in every 3.80 games is certainly not a bad record in the toughest league in the world, for a team that was eventually relegated.
He even scored against Liverpool, something only young central defender (now on loan at Led) Matthew Pennington could manage last season for Everton.
Fast forward to September 2017, with Everton finding themselves in an increasingly difficult position in terms of striking options, Koeman confirmed Niasse was back in his first team plans. It was confessed the reasons for doing so was a mixture of lack of options and, as a reward for his excellent conduct throughout his baron spell on the side lines.
Niasse refused to say anything negative about Everton or it’s coaching staff throughout his whole time out in the cold.
You could argue the club was still paying his wages, but that means nothing to the footballers of today. Fair play Oumar, I wonder if he still has Lukaku’s number?
The 27 year old, who had previously scored 36 goals and assisted 17 strikes in 93 games across several teams in Europe, was back. And how do you announce your return to the big time (well, Sunderland in the Carabao Cup)?
Coming off the bench, chesting one down in the opposition box and rifling it into the top corner of the net. Good work Mr Niasse, we’re glad to have you back!Score all your football betting at PaddyPower.com