Yannick Bolasie was once billed as football’s next big thing.
With feet as quick as a flash, dazzling wizardry that can mislead and dumbfound and a troubling, arching cross to top it all off, the out-of-favour Everton star once showcased all the makings of a top-class winger.
Needing only to add a sharper shot and perhaps a little more physicality to his game – aspects that are easily developed – Bolasie was heading for stardom when a cruciate ligament rupture put him out of play for over a year.
At 27, and having just signed for the Toffees from Crystal Palace for an eye-watering £25m, the injury caught the Congolese winger at the worst possible time.
To add insult to injury, but highlight the detriment caused by the rupture, Bolasie is now being linked with a late loan-out to either Aston Villa or Middlesbrough to languish in the Championship.
While the fella would undoubtedly be a poster boy at either club and be able to fight for a return to Premier League football, Marco Silva’s refusal to keep hold of him seems like lunacy.
Loaning out a player of his talent and stature is not only questionable, it’s insulting too.
Now 29, Bolasie has missed the peak of his footballing career, but is certainly still good enough to compete with Premier League opposition. His dazzling footwork is mesmeric enough to challenge most of the country’s defenders and the lad could easily replace the likes of Theo Walcott and Richarlison out wide.
Perhaps Silva wouldn’t start him every game or would value the aforementioned players in higher regard, but Bolasie could still put in a performance when required.
Further, his high, probing crosses would suit a physical frontman such as Cenk Tosun who could battle it out with defenders, running in behind the back line to claim looping balls between the penalty spot and six-yard box.
At the other end of things, by heading to English football’s second tier, Bolasie would be losing a season playing below his level at a moment when he simply doesn’t have the time to do so.
He’d already appeared in the Championship for Palace (albeit briefly, and without much merit) and then went on to excel in the Premier League. Taking a step back at this stage could prove too much to recover from with only two or three seasons left on top of his game.
Essentially, whether to head down a league or not depends on the level of ambition and – for want of a better word – confidence that Bolasie has.
Should he still have belief in his own ability following such a damaging spell out, the fella could stay at Goodison and battle his way back into the first team in just as much time as it would take his adopting Championship club to get back into the Prem.
He can reclaim himself regular top-flight football, then, from one of two ways: working at Everton or by earning promotion with someone else. With the Toffees keen to sell – and Bolasie seemingly keen for game time – it’s looking unlikely that the former option will ever be taken.
Sadly, it seems we’ll be watching one of football’s most enthralling players either sat cold on Everton’s bench or playing below his level in a bid to stay fit and catch someone’s eye.
Pitifully, had the fella been sold when the window was open, he wouldn’t be facing this problem. Or, better still, had Marco Silva shown some astuteness, he wouldn’t be aware of it.
Not getting Bolasie off their books sooner seems like a wasteful case of poor planning and management from Everton.
Overlooking his talent seems like dire hubris and may lead to a waste of genuinely transfixing skill in a game designed to entertain.
Should he move down, footballs fans globally should hope that he tears the Championship apart and earns himself the move that he’s worthy of. Perhaps Mr Silva will pay attention then.