After joining the club for £9.5 million in September, there were some concerns about how Ramiro Funes Mori would adapt to the Premier League. Everton were in need of a depth at center back with the departure of Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz and Funes Mori was brought in to fill the role. Any concerns about Funes Mori's ability to adapt to the Premier League were quickly squashed as the Argentinian fit in well in Everton's defense and even provided some goal scoring from the position.
What he did well
Funes Mori, was for large parts of the season, one of Everton's most consistent defenders. When Phil Jagielka went down with injuries or John Stones was out of form, the Argentine was able to step in with confidence to the center back role. If Stones was not in action, Funes Mori was a willing and capable passer, completing nearly 84% of his passes. If Jagielka was out, Funes Mori could use his height to be dangerous in the air both offensively and defensively. Given he is only 25, the former River Plate man showed he has the ability to be a solid defender in the Permier League for years to come.
With his height and aerial ability, Funes Mori was also Everton's most dangerous central defender off of set pieces. He was the only central defender to score a goal this season and did so four times. He scored a 90th minute stunner to go ahead against Chelsea until John Terry scored his own last minute stunner to leave the game at a draw. Everton have largely lacked that aerial ability on set pieces the last few years. Romeu Lukaku can be counted on to get on a header, and Phil Jagielka has been known to score a goal or two, but Everton have often struggled to score from corners and set pieces.
What he could have done better
There were times where Funes Mori looked every bit of a young and inexperienced defender. He's great in the air and made his fair share of timely tackles, but there were also several occasions where he was caught out of position and a goal was scored. The blame for Everton's dreadful defensive performances has to be shared by all of the defenders and Funes Mori has to be held equally accountable.
On the discipline front, Funes Mori was largely able to stay out of trouble, amassing only four yellow cards throughout the year. But his red card in the Merseyside Derby has to be one of the biggest bonehead plays I have personally seen. The tackle against Divock Origi was ugly and ill-advised. While I appreciate his passion for the club he showed during his walk to the dressing room, it mostly came across as foolish.
The summer ahead
It remains to be seen what will be done with Funes Mori this summer. The club has been rumored to have set a £23 million price tag on him should any suitors come calling, but until a new manager is in place his future remains in limbo. In the meantime Funes Mori will hope to see the field with Argentina's national team during the Copa America which kicks off this week. Everton will no doubt be hoping he performs well to potentially drive up his price should they wish to sell. Hopefully they will look to keep the defender as he has ability to be a starter in this league.
Final Grade: C+
While Funes Mori was arguably Everton's most consistent defender, it's tough to give anything above a C to a member of Everton's back ine. The group as a whole was so awful for large parts of the season and Funes Mori has his share of the blame for that. However, he is still young and has a bright future ahead of him.