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The match-winning double that could ignite Oumar Niasse’s Everton career

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Oumar Niasse

It was Roy of the Rovers stuff and a very much unexpected scenario, but football often throws up fairytale stories of the outcast returning from the cold to turn a game right when his team needs it the most, and the same can be said about Oumar Niasse’s Everton cameo against Bournemouth this weekend.

Frozen out of the Toffees side by Everton boss Ronald Koeman until this weekend and an excluded name for the club’s 26-man Europa League group stage squad, eyebrows were raised when the Dutchman included the Senegalese in his 25-man Premier League squad after a deadline day transfer to Crystal Palace fell through, 13 months after Koeman himself declared that Niasse had no future at Goodison Park.

Despite taking to the pitch with fiery encouragement from the Everton faithful, nobody inside Goodison Park could have expected the impact that the 27-year-old would make. But the blue contingency of the crowd were roaring his name in the 77th minute after firing a well-taken equaliser into the top-right corner of the goal having been thrown into the fray in place of Wayne Rooney- who’d more than been in the wars over the course of the match- in the 55th minute, six minutes after Joshua King had fired the Cherries in front.

The winner came just five minutes later, after Tom Davies attempted pass looped up into the air and Niasse attempted to head over the line. Asmir Begovic clawed the ball away, but hawk-eye would not be required as Niasse made sure, slotting the rebound home right-footed from inside the six-yard box, turning the game in Everton’s favour having been staring down the barrel at a fourth defeat in six Premier League games.

It is some transformation for the £13.3 million man, who arrived from Lokomotiv Moscow in the January 2016 transfer window short of fitness and putting in cameo performances more akin to Bambi on Ice than a footballer in the waning days of Roberto Martinez’s ill-fated reign on Merseyside. It seemed almost inevitable, therefore, that Ronald Koeman would swing the axe upon taking the helm, and do so he did, banishing him to the club’s Under-23 side and subsequently carting the forward out on loan to struggling Hull City in January 2017.

Niasse failed to supply the firepower necessary to keep the Tigers in the Premier League, but netted four goals during his stay at the KCOM Stadium, which suggested to the Everton faithful that, behind his initially unconvincing frame, there was some quality to be coaxed out of Niasse during his Premier League stint yet.

With goals a rare commodity following an opening day win at Stoke – with a mere two scored in five games – and the Toffees a goal down again, Koeman effectively came down to his last roll of the dice. He had been stubborn on giving Niasse another chance to win over his doubters, but having reinstated him to the bench, he handed the Senegalese his chance, and he gratefully grasped the lifeline with both hands to both the surprise and delight of his manager.

It was Niasse’s first Everton appearance since May 2016, and he netted his first Everton goals having gone six and a half hours of Premier League action without finding one.

One statistic that flagged up immediately after the game is that Everton’s departed goal hero Romelu Lukaku netted a hat-trick in this fixture last season, a convincing 6-3 victory for the Blues. Having been brought back from the cold, Niasse is now being touted as the man to replace him.

Scoring 20 or more goals may still be a big ask for Niasse, but that isn’t to say that this match-winning cameo won’t represent a turning point in his Everton career.

This cameo was an exhibition of everything that Niasse had to offer an Everton side that huffed and puffed and looked toothless up front prior to his introduction. Of course, Koeman’s clever introduction of Jonjoe Kenny and Tom Davies as well helped bring a greater energy and urgency to their general play, but Niasse added that little extra bite up front alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin, showing intelligent movement, a willingness to make runs in behind and press the Bournemouth defence when in possession, as well as make a nuisance of himself in the opposition penalty area with his physical presence.

This could be seen in abundance in both his goals, holding the ball up and holding off his man before emphatically firing home the equaliser, before his aerial ability and physical prowess allowed himself to craft an opportunity for himself following Davies’ hooked ball across goal.

Koeman may still take some convincing to invite Niasse back into his long-term plans having hinted he’d only turn to the Senegalese in times of strife, but a chance is certainly there given his apparent willingness to hand players their chance as he challenges every one of his players to pull their weight in the aim of helping the club fulfil its potential in ‘productivity’, and on Saturday the knives would have been well and truly out were it not for his swift and effective intervention.

Niasse will of course be watching from the stands in Everton’s Europa League group stage clash against Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol, but will be available for the Premier League showdown against Burnley back at Goodison Park on the 1st October. Having gotten his manager off the hook this weekend, he has certainly given Ronald Koeman food for thought, with the Goodison crowd elevating the forward to cult status following his latest heroics. There may be much hard work still to do on the training ground and on the pitch, but with the confidence this performance will bring the Senegalese, the door may just be left ajar for Niasse at Everton yet.

Scott is a Port Vale fan who writes regularly for The Boot Room as a freelancer. He is a fan of several sports but most of his experience in journalism comes from football and volleyball. He has produced several works on major Championships for both the FIVB and CEV in the volleyball world out in Switzerland, and is currently studying for a BA Hons in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford.

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Summer signing Josh Bowler finally starting to look the part for Everton

The summer signing from QPR is starting look the real deal for Everton.

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In the summer Everton made a number of new signings for the first-team, but what perhaps went under the radar was the improvements they made to the under-23 squad. One recruit signed with the future in mind was QPR attacker Josh Bowler.

As reported by Sky Sports, Everton paid the West London side £4.25 million for the talented winger, who signed a deal at the club until 2020.

He had previously played just 20 minutes of first-team football for QPR, so his signing did come as something of a surprise.

It is quite a financial outlay for a teenager and, looking at his statistics for the campaign, many Everton fans will be concerned he was a waste of money.

In 15 games for the Everton under-23s, the attacker managed to register zero assists or goals in what was an ultimately disappointing first season.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

However, in the recent 2-2 draw against Manchester United, Bowler summed up his season for the Everton youngsters.

The 19-year-old was easily Everton’s best player in the game. He tormented the Manchester United defence for 90 minutes with his direct style, pace and trickery. It was a tremendous performance which missed just two things, an end product and a bit of luck.

Bowler though is showing all the right attributes to become a future Everton star. After a slow start to the season, he has come into his own in the final weeks of the campaign and Everton fans can rightly start to get excited about their summer recruit.

What Bowler now has the perfect base to build on during the summer. He needs to bulk up a little to be a pertinent threat in the Premier League, which is where the summer can come in handy.

Staying fit and continued to improve are all Bowler really needs to do in order to prove himself a top talent in the Everton system.

At the moment, the trajectory is looking good for this 19-year-old talent.

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If Everton are serious about top four challenge they must battle rivals for Clement Lenglet

The Frenchman has been sublime for Sevilla this season and Everton need a new central defender.

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After a summer of investment Everton‘s aim for this season was to challenge for the top four. It was a bold and ambitious plan which failed miserably.

They spent much of the first half of the campaign in the relegation reckoning, sacked their manager and have now limped their way to the top-half playing a dreadful brand of football under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.

It is fair to say, Everton fans are not happy.

Next season, the challenge again will be to try and compete with the Premier League’s elite.

But if Everton are going to do that, they need to improve one area of their team drastically – the defence.

Ashley Williams has been woeful this season and Everton fans would happily see the back of him.

Phil Jagielka does his best, but age is starting to get the better of him. Michael Keane took a while to settle following his move from Burnley.

Meanwhile, Ramiro Funes Mori has been injured most of the campaign and Mason Holgate has had an inconsistent season.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

A new centre-back is a must and, if Everton are serious about challenging for Europe, it needs to be a top defender.

Plenty are about at the moment, but the one which springs to mind for Everton is Sevilla star Clement Llenglet.

He caught the eye of English football fans after shackling Romelu Lukaku at Old Trafford in the Champions League.

The Frenchman has been in fine form for the club this season and now Lenglet is being linked with a host of clubs.

One such team is Liverpool, and with good reason. Lenglet has a release clause in his contract at Sevilla which stands at just €30 million (£26.25 million) – according to Marca.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

Considering the price paid for the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Alporte and John Stones after the past year that fee is an absolute bargain.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is expected to dig deep into his pockets again this summer as Everton look to mount a renewed campaign next season.

Beating the likes of Liverpool to Lenglet’s signature would be the biggest signal of intent yet that Everton are ready to push into the Premier League elite.

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Everton’s under-the-radar £6m signing Lewis Gibson is a star of the future

The England under-18 defender looks a star in the making for Everton.

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Everton’s under-23s brought their season to an end this week with a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. It was not the campaign they would have wanted, after the brilliant PL2 title-winning season of 2016-17. But with David Unsworth stepping up to first-team duties earlier in the season and plenty of their stars from that season sent out on loan or joining the Everton first-team is what always going to be a tough one.

But in the final weeks of the campaign one player who has really stood out as an exceptional talent is 17-year-old defender Lewis Gibson.

His signature may have slipped by some Everton fans in the summer. The Toffees brought the England under-18 international to Finch Farm from Newcastle United. The fee for the player, according to the Liverpool Echo, could eventually rise to £6 million, so he was clearly identified as a top investment for the future.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

He has certainly looked the part this season.

Gibson has played 16 times for Everton’s under-23s this campaign, playing at both his preferred centre-back position and left-back. The talented defender was a member of the England under-17 team that won the World Cup last summer and he now looks like he could be the next great hope from the Everton youth system.

This summer he turns 18 and, given the standard he has showcased in the under-23s, he could genuinely start pushing for first-team football at Everton from next term.

(Photo by Filipe Farinha/Getty Images)

With the defence still an issue for Everton, improvements are likely in the summer. But Gibson should not be simply overlooked just because of his tender years.

Whilst he should not be a Premier League regular it would be great to see Gibson get game time in the League Cup and maybe find his way into the matchday squad on occasions next term.

Everton should not rush the defender, but if you are good enough then you are old enough. Gibson is starting to look like he could be the future of Everton’s defence and should get some reward from next season.

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