The Curious Case of Oumar Niasse
Everton have had a busy transfer market this summer, bringing in eight new faces. However, there’s still one massive, gaping, Lukaku sized hole that Everton have still failed to fill. Rooney, Sandro Ramirez and the ever-improving Calvert-Lewin have all shown what they can offer going forward, but it’s clear from last weeks three games in six days, that we still need an out and out striker that can improve the starting eleven. It’s something Koeman has made clear from day one. But as every day passes, things get that little bit more pressured, the ever usually tight lipped Koeman is using every press conference as a chance to throw out the fishing line, looking for any sort of bites from any want away strikers, most recently, not ruling out a loan move for Chelsea outcast Diego Costa. But this got me thinking… about the man with no locker, the enigma, the one and only Oumar Niasse.
This article may initially come across, as a joke, but stick with it and allow me to play the role of Devil’s advocate. The Senegalese striker signed for Everton from Lokomotiv Moscow for £13.5m in January 2016, to offer support for our main man at the time Romelu Lukaku. Sadly, things didn’t start well for Niasse, and this was maybe a sign of the issues to come. There were initial fitness concerns. He last played for Lokomotiv on 10 December 2015, before the Russian break, while he had also undergone a wrist operation before his move. His match fitness was low and would deteriorate further as Martínez continued to overlook him, Niasse’s first league appearance for the blues didn’t come until the 1st March 2016, from the bench against Aston Villa. Whilst his first start did not come until 30th April 2016 in the home win over Bournemouth. In all, Niasse started just two games and made three substitute appearances for Everton in the league that season. Unsurprisingly, Niasse stunk. He scored no goals and made no assists. In fact, I am not even sure he controlled a ball.
Evertonians can be some of the best fans in England. Starved of success in recent times, we still stick by the club through and through, travel in our drones up and down the country, following them wherever they go. When we do qualify, we swarm on Europe like few others. But…. we can also be a hasty bunch. Quite often deciding on a player’s quality and indeed status at the club within a game or if we are feeling generous? Two. It is worth remembering, hitting the ground running doesn’t always guarantee a successful career at Everton. Andy Johnson, considered somewhat of an Everton cult hero, and yes, ‘the Johnson Derby’ warrants that somewhat, *tilts hat* thanks again Mr Johnson. But, would it surprise you to know he only scored 17 goals in 61 appearances? Jelavic was another held in high esteem early on, and sure the 11 goals from his debut in January 2012 to May 2012 played a large part of that. But once again, Jelavic struggled to maintain his blistering form and eventually left Everton in 2014 making 59 appearances and scoring just 16 goals.
Patience is key according to David
On the other hand, given time and patience, you never know what a player can turn into. Leighton Baines, who warrants the term being considered a modern-day Everton great, took time to settle in his first season. In his first season, Baines started just 13 games and made 9 substitute appearances. One of the league’s all-time record assist holders, managed just 1 assist all season that year. What about another recent Everton star? Anybody remember this date, 22nd October 2009? Don’t worry if you don’t, because I didn’t, I googled that shit. But what I do remember is the 5-0 drumming handed to us in the Europa League by Benfica in Lisbon. Seamus Coleman made his debut that night, and I’ll be honest, he had a stinker. At fault for losing his man on the first goal, things never got much better for the youngster who had a torrid night and left many Evertonians stating he would never play in blue again if they were manager. Lucky for us, they weren’t. Three days later in his Goodison Park debut, a Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur, Coleman was named Man of the Match after coming on as a first-half substitute for the injured Joseph Yobo, and played an instrumental part for both of Everton’s goals in a 2–2 draw. The rest as they say is history.
I’m not saying Niasse, will turn into an Everton great, in fact I am not even saying he will turn out to be a real Footballer, but let’s look at some facts. Niasse came into a team rotten to the core. The dressing room was lost, results were terrible, Everton won just 5 league games in the remaining second half of the season. They finished 11th in the league. How much influence can a striker coming over from Russia, in his first season, make in period such as that one? Martinez finally lost his job after a run of terrible results which included defeats to West Ham, Arsenal, Manchester United, as well as humiliations to Liverpool, Leicester and even fucking Sunderland. Fucking Sunderland! Ah sorry, a bit of the old raw emotions come flooding back there. What a terrible time that was. Anyway, in comes Ronald Koeman, new season on the horizon… new start for Mr Niasse?
No. Not even a little. In fact, things somehow got worse for the Senegalese man. Having seen Niasse feature for just 45 minutes in a single pre-season fixture, Koeman quickly decided there was no place for him at Everton. In typical brutal Koeman fashion, Koeman told the media ‘’we have enough strikers and different strikers to what he is. I prefer these people and not Niasse in the team.” Niasse wasn’t given a squad number or even a locker for the coming season. Ruthlessness is something we have lacked for many years, and it is indeed a trait in Koeman we welcome, but was this a step to far?
His ability is still up for question, but what is not, is his attitude. Niasse broke his silence in an interview in October 2016. Niasse branded the situation ‘’sad’’. He confirmed just 48 hours after his 45 minute cameo in pre-season, he was called into Koeman’s office and told he had to leave. Although Naisse confirmed he felt he didn’t deserve the treatment he had received, he accepted his managers decision and thanked him for his time. Pretty classy in my opinion. How many others may have taken this opportunity in front of the mainstream media to vent their frustrations at the club and indeed coaching staff that having seemingly halted his career?
Niasse was a hit with the Hull City fans during his loan there
Niasse spent the first half of the 16/17 season with Everton U23’s, scoring an impressive 7 goals in 5 games. Then in January a lifeline was thrown his way, Hull City brought him in on loan to help bring some potential fire power to their imminent relegation battle. Making 19 appearances for Hull (only 12 of which were starts) he scored 5 goals and assisted 1. Not a record that will blow you away, but 1 goal in every 3.80 games is certainly not a bad record in the toughest league in the world, for a team that was eventually relegated. Honorable mention for a goal in a 2-0 victory against Liverpool too of course. Something our best striker failed to do last season in either Merseyside derby.
Everton find themselves in an increasingly difficult position in terms of striking options. With the list of targets dwindling by the hours and with time running low, it seems Everton are turning their attentions to lesser known targets. Most recently Hajduk Split striker Nikola Vlasic. Vlasic has scored 12 goals and assisted 20 goals in 119 appearances for Hajduk. He is only 19 and therefore looks like a promising prospect, but he will no doubt require time in order to adapt to England and the demands of the Premier League. There is also talk of little known striker Peya Bulshitz maybe being a better option? He is a 27 year old, who has scored 36 goals and assisted 17 goals in 93 games across several teams in Europe, and has proven he can do it in the Premier League in a lesser side with a run of games?
Don’t worry if you’ve missed the paper talk of us being linked with Peya Bulshitz, because the link is of course ‘Pya bullshit’. If you missed that one, grab yourself a coffee, you’re having an off day. I mean come one, Peya Bulshitz? With a name like that the lad wouldn’t have made it out of school alive in the real word. The player doesn’t exist, but the stats do….and they are the stats of our very own Oumar Niasse. In a summer of transfer madness, who wouldn’t take a shot on a player with that record, on a free transfer with no further detriment to the wage bill?
There’s talk of a potential deal with Brighton in the air for Niasse, but if that falls through? Well Ronald, I think it’s time to give the man with no locker one more shot in the royal blue, because however scary this may seem now, the way things are going, we might just need him.