Is it time to bring Oumar Niasse in from the cold?

oumarniasseIs there any point in asking the question “should Oumar Niasse be given a chance in the first team?”  It’s extremely unlikely he will be given Ronald Koemans current stance.

Of course there may be a strong argument for Niasse to be given a chance on Sunday against Manchester United, 11 goals in 6 games for the under 23’s isn’t a bad start, after all you can only beat what’s in front of you. Given that this kind of form would often create a clamour amongst the press, media and supporters for his inclusion it’s maybe a little surprising that only a trickle for his inclusion throughout social media persists. Ronald Koeman has apparently said no!

What does he have to do to be given a chance? He’s a forward who scores goals and should be judged as such. He came to Everton as a relatively late starter. Many years playing in Senegal for US Ouakam, 102 goals in 154 games before an indifferent loan period with SK Brann, a trial period with AS Saint-Etienne before signing for Akhisar Belediyespor in Turkey where he spent one season scoring 15 goals. He signed for Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow in the summer of 2014.

During the January transfer window 2016, Four four two magazine ran an article suggesting Man United, Chelsea and Spurs were interested in signing him. This was due to his “remarkable” form during the second half of the season for Lokomotiv Moscow. He had scored 8 goals with 6 assists with a further 4 goals and 2 assists in the Europa League (total 19 goals in 42 games). This represented about half of all Lokomotiv goals, one of which helped them to win the Russian Cup. They suggested his form has fluctuated throughout his career but felt sure he would be joining a premier league club soon. It happened to be Everton at the cost of £13.5 million.

Despite being 26 years old he is relatively inexperienced in top flight football. Roberto Martinez must have seen something in Oumar, surely. His lack of game time since signing leads some to believe the signing may have been a typical January panic buy. His game time measured unusually for such an expensive signing, in minutes. This is hard to comprehend given the poor performances witnessed in the league last season and lack of goals. It was looking like he was our own version of Ali Dia, hilariously sold to Southampton after Graeme Souness was told he was the cousin of former world footballer of the year George Weah. One blag phone call by a friend of Dia’s later, he was signed.

As it currently stands, his strengths seem to be exactly what Koeman is looking for. Hard working, quick, unselfish, perfect for a pressing game, yet he was greeted by the new manager with removal of his squad number and famously had his locker taken away from him. In most other forms of the workplace this could be considered bullying, yet, having been banished to play with “the kids” he has not only played, but done what he is being paid for. It is worth remembering however, that he didn’t look particularly good when he did play last season, but has he really had enough chance to do himself justice?

It seems his fate is sealed. While Everton go through a very poor run of results looking increasingly unlikely to score, it seems on the face of it that starting Niasse in the first team is a gamble worth taking, whatever your stance is on Lukaku’s current form. The lack of clamour for the inclusion of Niasse suggests that either there remains no confidence in his ability based on what we have seen already or that Ronald Koeman has made his mind up and his reputation for apparent stubbornness means it’s not even worth trying.

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Paul Chaloner

Paul Chaloner was born less than a mile from Goodison Park in 1962. He retired to Spain where he follows Everton from afar. He went to his first Everton match in 1970 (5-2 v chelsea), sold cushions in the stands throughout the 1970s until they were abandoned in the early 1980s and continued to watch the blues until relatively recently before going to live in Spain. He has three sons, all blues!

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