As we type, Ademola Lookman looks set to be on the verge of a permanent move to RB Leipzig in what could be a very good bit of business for Everton – at least financially. But have a succession of managers failed to get Lookman playing the way he should be?
Lookman signed from Charlton without much fanfare, and with the expectation that he would make a few first team appearances but would be plying his trade with the Under 23 side. He had, after all, been playing alongside the likes of JonJoe Kenny at international level with the England Under 19 side.
On signing Lookman, then Everton manager Ronald Koeman, said, “We believe in the player and in the development of the player which, of course, will take time but he will have a big part to play in the future of the Club.”
Ten days later Lookman came on as a late substitute against Manchester City and scored. Cue huge rises in expectations.
Koeman did his best to manage those expectations, but Lookman himself had seen his name in lights, and wanted more.
Fast forward twelve months and Lookman was sent to RB Leipzig on loan to learn his trade – and get more minutes – in the Bundesliga by new manager Sam Allardyce, who had decided that the youngster was not going to play a part in an Everton side crying out for his pace and guile.
At Leipzig, Lookman thrived. He played regularly and appeared to beef up. He scored plenty too, and when he returned to Everton in the summer of 2018, Leipzig wanted him back.
Everton – again – had a new manager. And Marco Silva said that despite interest from the Bundesliga side, Lookman was “the present and the future of the club and we have to try to convince him to go in this way as well.
There have been question marks over the attitude of the 19 year old signed for a record fee and scored within seconds of making his Premier League debut, but has then been left out of the side.
There have been suggestions that he doesn’t work well in training and doesn’t want to fight for his place, but Phil Jagielka addressed that issue publicly late last year when Lookman appeared to smile at one point.
Lookman has made just 7 Premier League starts for Everton since singing 30 months ago. He made the same amount in a six month spell at RB Leipzig, and scored five goals in the process. His only Premier League goal came in the first of his 29 substitute appearances for Everton.
When young players are signed for big money, they expect big things, and so do supporters. Lookman has not been able to produce the big things that scoring on his debut felt like it promised, but Everton have also failed to give him the kind of run in the first team that he will have expected.
Leipzig, by contrast, put faith in his abilities and were repaid.
Could Sam Allardyce have done the same with Lookman instead of loaning him out? Instead he signed Theo Walcott, who then, despite a run of truly terrible form, kept Lookman out of the first team under Marco Silva last season when most in the crowd were crying out for the 21 year old to be given a shot.