According to Talk Sport, Everton are very close to signing 18-year-old Odd striker Rafik Zekhnini. The player is reportedly flying to England for talks with the Merseysiders ahead of a permanent move. Norwegian newspaper Varden has indicated that the Toffees have stepped up their interest in the player and their scouts have been really impressed with the kid. Hence, they are not wasting any time in getting his signature. The Norwegian youngster has been tipped for a big future.
Although he has just scored five goals in 27 games this season, he looks to be one who could have a remarkable improvement in the English side. Several clubs had approached Norwegian club Odd for the youngster but the club has managed to retain him until now. Zekhnini has come through the ranks from Odd’s youth academy.
Given his young age, Zekhnini has supreme prowess in acceleration and pace both on and off the ball. However, to maintain his agility in a pacy league like that of England, Zekhnini will have to improve his stamina. Everton are looking at a potentially long-term prospect in the Norwegian, who could be a good forward few years down the line.
Although his pace would be a great strength for Everton up the flanks, what would be concerning is Zekhnini’s defensive abilities. In English Premier League defending is an essential attribute of a forward and the ability to cope in the league is gauged a lot by that ability. This is where the Norwegian is looking weak at the moment. His tackling ability lacks the conviction, which will need massive improvement.
Apart from that Zekhnini, who is primary a winger and can play in both the flanks, will have some very tough competition in the Everton squad in the likes of Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas, Gerard Deulofeu, Aaron Lennon and Yannick Bolasie, who are seasoned now.
Everton are one of the few clubs in the Premier League, who have a deep bench with players who could easily replace a first team player. Hence, Koeman knows he could do without Lukaku if he leaves as he already has 4 more options in that position in Leandro Rodriguez, Conor McAleny, Enner Valencia and Arouna Kone.
Everton are currently 7th in the Premier league and are looking to bounce back from their humiliating defeat against Chelsea after the international break. After a disappointing season last year, Everton have started brightly this season and will look to finish in the top half.