Everton have confirmed the signing of Niels Nkounkou from Marseille on a free transfer and Marcel Brands has hinted that Leighton Baines is set to remain at Goodison Park – when discussing the Toffees first summer signing.
Nkounkou, 19, rejected the chance to remain at Marseille this summer despite Andre Villas-Boas taking the French outfit into the Champions League with a second-placed Ligue 1 finish. He failed to make a senior appearance.
Now, the France Under-19 international has signed a three-year deal at Everton. He is likely to train with the first team but is expected to be a regular in David Unsworth’s Under-23 side during the 2020-21 campaign.
Speaking on Everton’s website, sporting director Brands hinted that Baines could remain at Goodison Park by helping Nkounkou develop. The Times say Baines has been offered a one-year deal, but is yet to respond.
“Hopefully he can learn a lot from Lucas Digne and Leighton Baines, as well as Carlo Ancelotti and David Unsworth, and follow the same pathway into the first team,” Brands said, when discussing the signing of Nkounkou.
TBR’s view – Baines, stay or go?
Baines, 35, has been at Everton since 2007 following his move from Wigan. His experience is invaluable off the pitch as well as on it, having clocked up 418 appearances for the Merseyside club.
But given Digne is easily first choice and now the signing of Nkounkou gives Everton cover, do they need Baines? At least for another season, keeping the set-piece specialist is the right move.