In comments reported by the Liverpool Echo on Tuesday, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised Hearts striker Steven Naismith, expressing his disbelief that Everton sold the attacker back in 2016.
“I was actually surprised when he left Everton in the first place to go to Norwich because I thought he was one of their key players,” Rodgers said.
Yet these comments by the former Liverpool manager are completely off the mark, as Naismith was far from an integral member of the Toffees when he departed for Norwich City in January 2016.
The Scot joined Everton from Rangers in July 2012, yet scored just 26 goals in 132 appearances at Goodison Park. Despite featuring 31 times in the Premier League in each of his three full seasons for the Merseyside club, Naismith’s best goal tally was seven goals in 2014/15.
These hardly prolific numbers were compounded in the start to the 2015/16 season, when Naismith started the Premier League season with four straight substitute appearances. After a hat-trick against Chelsea in September 2015, the Scot failed to score another league goal for the Toffees.
From 24 October to 28 December — a span of nine league matches — Naismith did not play a single minute for Everton, representing a dramatic turn of fortune.
Eventually, the attacker was sold to lowly Norwich on 19 January, completing his fall from grace at Goodison Park.
In all, it is clear Brendan Rodgers’ opinion that Naismith was a “key player” for Everton is wildly inaccurate, as the striker rarely found the net or featured toward the end of his Toffees career.