Everton’s long search for a Romelu Lukaku replacement has apparently taken them to Juventus’ Moise Kean.
The Toffees ended the 2018/19 season in fine style, picking up 13 points from their final five home games against Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd and Burnley, without conceding a single goal.
However, Marco Silva’s debut season still only yielded an eighth-place finish in the Premier League. Arguably, the main reason behind that is the lack of a natural goalscorer up front.
Between Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun – Everton’s two main strikers from last season – the pair scored just nine Premier League goals. The former played a big part in the Merseysiders’ end of season run but, still, he is anything but an instinctive predator.
Sure, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison each scored 13 goals but they came in fits and starts. Richarlison is wasted through the middle, while Sigurdsson is a supreme footballer at his best around the edge of the box rather than in it.
According to reports, Everton are looking to strike a £35.7m deal with Juventus for Kean. On the face of it, that looks like an absolute snip: two goals in three senior caps for Italy, 12 goals in 41 club appearances and two Serie A titles.
All of that at just 19 years old, meaning he has a tonne of resale value, right? Well, therein lies the problem. Juve are only willing to sanction such a cut-price deal for one of their brightest talents if a buy-back clause is put into his contract, effectively making the deal a long-term loan which could be terminated at any time. This is a far cry from the sort of statement signing Farhad Moshiri and Co are looking to bring to Goodison Park.
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Everton have been stung by these sorts of deals before. Yes, Andre Gomes’ loan move was made permanent this summer without a hitch but the same cannot be said for Kurt Zouma. The centre-back was a colossus at the back for Silva last term but after his loan expired, he headed back to Chelsea, whose transfer ban means they’re unlikely to sell now.
And remember Gerard Deulofeu? His time at Goodison Park was mercurial to say the least but even so, the £10.6m buy-back clause Barcelona activated in July 2017 was nowhere near the market value of a player who had just scored four goals during a short-term loan at AC Milan.
However, this isn’t the only case of Europe’s supposed elite leveraging a big club’s desperation for a return to the big time against them.
Arsenal haven’t enjoyed Champions League football since 2017 and are in serious need of a creative outlet in midfield to service their deadly strike duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. The result? Real Madrid have now pawned off Dani Ceballos, albeit only on loan. The Spaniard was the star man in Spain’s Uefa U-21 European Championship success this summer and is a supremely talented playmaker. However, for one reason or another, Zinedine Zidane just doesn’t fancy him. Even so, Los Blancos are only willing to allow a short-term deal, giving Arsenal a plaster when they really need stitches.
The same could be said of Denis Suarez’ disastrous loan move to the Emirates in January or, to a lesser extent, Gonzalo Higuain’s short-term switch to Chelsea. Both of these deals were designed to be quick-fixes to dire needs, and neither of them worked out in the slightest.
So, do Everton really want to dip their toes into this kind of pool again? Lukaku was the Toffees’ top Premier League scorer in each of his four seasons at Goodison Park – even bagging 25 goals during his final campaign – while Everton scored 59 goals or more in three of those campaigns. The only time they failed was in the 2014/15 season when they finished 11th and Lukaku managed just 10 league goals.
Kean’s age certainly fits the profile of player Silva and director of football Marcel Brands are trying to sign but his style doesn’t seem to fit the Portuguese tactician’s system. Silva likes an energetic striker who can press, such as Calvert-Lewin, but is also capable of physically challenging centre-backs, allowing space for his inside forwards to wreak havoc in front of goal.
“I think we have a good squad and I am aware that the fans are asking if we can find a new striker who can score 20 goals…..”
Kean failed to make a single tackle in Serie A last year and was involved in just 10 aerial duels, winning six. His game is all about peeling off the last defender to get one-on-one with the goalkeeper, where his lethal finishing comes into play.
It would, therefore, require a tactical switch from Silva to accommodate this young Italian. However, such is Everton’s need for a goalscorer, it is a switch he may have no choice but to make, regardless of the long-term ramifications.