Central defenders Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma ended the 2018/19 Premier League season as a nigh-impregnable force. Starting with a gutsy 0-0 home draw against Liverpool, Everton notably went through the final two months of their home campaign without conceding a single goal.
It was a partnership that showed real promise, but when Zouma returned to Chelsea last summer, Keane’s form deteriorated, sometimes going back to the worst of 2017/18 in the following months. Understandably, there are still many fans who doubt that Keane’s current partnership with set-piece talisman Yerry Mina is the way forward.
Caption: With a brace in February’s 3-2 win at Watford, Mina is a threat, but still far from a ‘complete’ defender.
Todibo represents a speculative investment
In the context of a looming World Cup in Qatar, the persisting faults of the Keane-Mina partnership are all the more inexplicable. Indeed, with both England and Colombia set to be amongst international football betting frontrunners with bet365 to lift the world’s greatest trophy in 2022, both men should be working together at 110%.
With Mason Holgate likely to move into the defensive part of midfield long-term, the lack of competition for Keane/Mina is a burning issue. In riposte, the arrival of defender Gabriel Magalhaes is seen as a certainty by some media outlets. Yet, with links to Barcelona’s 20-year old centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo also emerging in recent days, there is an apparent desire to plug the gap left by Zouma in a more diverse way.
While still yet to be pursued in anger by Ancelotti, the reported valuation of £17.4 million for Todibo’s signature – just 18 months on from his move to Barcelona – is something of an eye-opener. Part of the reasoning for this rocketing valuation is the consistency he has shown for Schalke while on loan, playing alongside fellow loanee Jonjoe Kenny.
A loan period would be inevitable for Todibo if he signs for Everton, possibly entailing further football at Schalke. At £17.4 million though, fans will inevitably clamour to see him start in the backline on a regular basis at Goodison Park, possibly before he is ripe for such a responsibility.
Caption: Kenny and Todibo occupy the defensive half during a ‘moral victory’ over Bayern in March 2020. The ‘Royal Blues’ lost 1-0.
Conclusion – is Todibo worth it?
In the short term, no – he would fall firmly into the ‘experimental’ category, regardless of the skill he has shown over in the Bundesliga. Regular first-team appearances for Everton, at such a tender juncture in Todibo’s career, would either prove to be a stroke of mad genius from Ancelotti or (more realistically) disillusion him from day one.
Many Evertonians will attest that the time for experimenting is over, and if the delay in resuming Premier League action is to act as something of a ‘grand equaliser’, Ancelotti’s men need to hit the ground running upon resumption.
For an additional £17.4 million, Everton could at least sign a player with the ability to compensate for Mina and Keane’s respective weaknesses as defenders, even if said man was not a regular starter, or as good an all-rounder as either of Everton’s default defensive duo.
Additionally, Todibo would undoubtedly find close proximity to the fans, alongside the very changeable atmosphere, to be something of a culture shock. On the other hand, Ancelotti’s proven success with long-term projects (particularly in Italy) practically entitles him to make such a speculative deal for Todibo.
And so, the party line remains “In Carlo we trust”.
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