Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Everton Are Close To Making This French Defender Their First Summer Signing: One For The Future?

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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.

According to a recent report by The Daily Star, Everton are close to making Niels Nkounkou their first summer signing after the player has declined the opportunity to sign a professional contract with Olympique Marseille. The same source has also mentioned that Juventus, Newcastle United and Red Bull Leipzig are also interested in acquiring the services of the French youngster. However, it is believed that Nkounkou has chosen to join the Toffees to serve as a back-up to Lucas Digne in the coming seasons.

Nkounkou’s Rapid Rise In French Football

The 19-year-old came through the youth ranks of Stade Brest 29 before joining the Marseille Under-19 side back in 2017. He impressed a lot of people with his performances for the French outfit’s B team but failed to make his debut for André Villas-Boas’s senior squad.

Nkounkou is currently a free agent after his contract at the Orange Velodrome came to an end which makes him a low-risk signing for any of his potential suitors including the Toffees. The talented teenager has also represented France at various youth levels but is yet to secure a senior cap for Didier Deschamps’ side at the highest level. He is currently playing an important role in France’s U-19 team, having made two appearances for them so far.

What Are The French Full-Back’s Best Attributes?

Nkounkou is a highly versatile player as he primarily operates as a left-back but can also fill in as a left-sided winger if required. He can use his pace and agility to make some driving runs with the ball out on the wide areas. The Pontoise-born prospect can also overpower the opposition by using his strong upper-body, which allows him to win his fair share of aerial duels for his team.

Everton Player Ratings Vs Norwich City  - Ancelotti looks on during the tie
Everton’s Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti (L) sits on the bench during the English Premier League football match between Norwich City and Everton at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England, on June 24, 2020. (Photo by KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

He is a reliable defender at the back because of his tenacity to earn the ball back for his side. The Frenchman is often quick to read the danger and can pull off some vital clearances at the back as well.

Is Nkounkou A Prospect For The Future?

A full-back of Nkounkou’s potential could prove to be a decent acquisition for the Merseyside outfit in the long-run. He will not only add more pace and variety to Carlo Ancelotti’s defence but also enhance the overall depth of his first-team squad. Furthermore, he will offer some much-needed competition for Lucas Digne in the upcoming campaign. The 19-year-old could also serve as an ideal long-term replacement for the ageing Leighton Baines, whose contract at Goodison Park runs out at the end of this month.

Nkounkou ticks all the right boxes in terms of what Ancelotti demands from his full-backs and is undeniably a prospect to look out for in the future as long as he can continue improving his game with each season. With all things considered, he could turn out to be an intelligent piece of business for Everton before the start of the new campaign.

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