Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Everton To Face Man United & Watford Competition For This Serie A Defender: Right Fit For The Toffees?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

On Friday, Corriere di Verona (translated by Sport Witness) had reported that Everton would be joined by Watford and Manchester United in the race to secure the signature of Hellas Verona centre-back Marash Kumbulla. The same source has revealed that the Toffees will also face stiff competition from Red Bull Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt, Napoli and Inter Milan in pursuit of the Albanian defender.

Kumbulla’s Recent Emergence In The Serie A

The 20-year-old has made a handful of appearances for Verona this season and has managed to put in a run of consistent displays at the heart of Ivan Jurić’s defence. The Albanian youngster has played in 19 matches for the Italian outfit this term and has one goal to his name on all fronts. More importantly, he has secured over 1500 minutes of playing time on the field, which has helped him mature as a player.

Kumbulla has averaged 1.8 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 2.9 clearances per 90 minutes in the Serie A this season (stats via whoscored). His outstanding contributions in defence have propelled Verona to climb to the eighth position in the league table. He also got a chance to make his debut for the Albanian national side when he came on as a substitute to feature against Moldova in a UEFA European Championship qualifier back in October last year.

If the Italy-born prospect can continue to make progress with each season, then it is only a matter of time before he becomes a regular member of his nation’s senior squad.

AC Milan’s Spanish forward Samu Castillejo (L) and Verona’s Albanian defender Marash Kumbulla go for the ball during the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Verona on February 2, 2020, at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

What Will The Albanian Prospect Bring To Merseyside?

Kumbulla has often been used as a centre-back this season, but he is versatile enough to play as a defensive midfielder if required. The Albanian has shown a few glimpses of his true potential and has proven himself to be a capable defender at the back. He can read the game well and has managed to make some vital interceptions and last-gasp clearances for his team. However, the Serie A starlet still has a long way to go and needs to improve his upper-body strength if he wants to cope with the physicality and high intensity of Premier League football.

Is Kumbulla The Right Fit For Ancelotti?

Kumbulla’s addition will allow Carlo Ancelotti to build his team’s attacks from the back as the Hellas Verona wonderkid is usually quite accurate with his ball-distribution as evidenced by his pass success rate of 84.2% in league football (stats via whoscored). The Toffees are in dire need of strengthening their squad for the future if Ancelotti is to bring some success back to Goodison Park. Hence, it makes sense for Everton to orchestrate a move to lure Kumbulla to Merseyside this summer.

The Albanian defender will be an excellent fit for Ancelotti’s side as he will provide some much-needed cover for the likes of Yerry Mina, Mason Holgate and Michael Keane. Furthermore, Kumbulla has shown this season that he is good enough to play regular top-flight football so we can expect him to challenge for a starting berth at Everton if they can find a way to win the race for his signature in the off-season.

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