Eyebrows were raised when Everton opted to sign Yannick Bolasie for a fee that could reach £30 million if certain clauses were met. This is a player who contributed just five goals and three assists at Crystal Palace last season. For the amount of money that has been spent on him, the club will expect him to contribute significantly more over the course of this season. There is an argument that it was difficult for him to achieve better numbers at Palace, as there wasn’t a proven striker leading the line.
At Goodison Park, he will be supplying one of the most devastating forwards in the league in Romelu Lukaku and the takeaway from yesterday’s game was that the two are beginning to develop a good understanding. The Belgian striker grabbed a hat-trick, with Bolasie supplying the assist for one of the goals. At times last season, the DR Congo international was providing excellent service, but there wasn’t a clinical striker to apply the finishing touch. That won’t be the case at his new club and his performance yesterday will have made some of the doubters rethink their view on the move.
The Sunderland defence struggled all match, as they couldn’t deal with the pace and skill of the Everton winger. Although there were problems with their organisation from the first whistle, Bolasie was excellent at targeting the gaps left in the back four and his direct running created several good opportunities for his side. Javi Manquillo is highly rated and he was seen as a good pick up by Sunderland, but he was made to look silly by the quick-footed winger. The former Crystal Palace player has the ability to do that to any fullback in the league, but his game lacks consistency. If Ronald Koeman can add that over the coming months, he will more than live up to his hefty price tag.
He has already struck up a good relationship with the Everton fans, who chanted his name for long periods of the match at the Stadium of Light. His assist for Lukaku showed exactly what he brings to the Toffees’ side. He used his pace to provide himself with an extra yard of space to deliver a ball into the box. It was perfectly weighted, giving the Belgian a simple task of nodding it past Jordan Pickford. The quality was in the assist rather than the goal itself. After a slow start, Monday’s display suggests that he is starting to make his mark at his new club and the move to Merseyside may have provided him with the opportunity to push on to bigger things.
Although he is very dangerous in the attacking half, there are still issues to be ironed out of the winger’s game. The main problem being that he is dispossessed too often (twice against Sunderland) to be considered one of the best in his position. The 27-year-old needs to learn when to run with the ball and when it is better to play a simple pass to a team-mate. At times he can try to take on one too many and loses the ball, which puts his defence under pressure.
The pressure has been heaped on Bolasie due to the amount of money that has been spent on him. Some players can crumble under the pressure that a huge price tag brings, but the new signing at Everton is relishing the opportunity and looks to have stepped up his game a notch. He was superb on Monday and is already establishing himself as the main creative outlet in the squad. It has been an excellent start and if he can perform at this level consistently, he could yet live up to the price tag.
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