Brace yourselves, I’m about to drop some hard truth here... Cuco Martina is terrible. Everyone okay? He’s terrible as a right back, and he’s even worse as a left back. Him as the primary option to step in for Leighton Baines is not in any way ideal at all. The only thing that has saved us with him being in the lineup is that Sam Allardyce is a wizard walking among us. Somehow, he’s actually converted the Curacao international into a somewhat functional defender, but only when he’s well-rested.
So, with a striker apparently in the bag, Everton is likely to throw everything but the kitchen Cenk at getting a new defender who can provide cover on the left. Here are the options we’ve been linked with so far.
Joe Bryan, Bristol City
Everything after this name is academic. “Buyin’ Joe Bryan” should be the slogan of the rest of January until it happens. Here’s the reality, Bristol City is second in the Championship, odds are they’ll be in the Premier League next term. Our options may well be to either buy Bryan now or face him next year, and here’s what he does to teams that face him:
Oh, that was luck, you say?
Joe Bryan is a big part of why Bristol City have beaten four Premier League sides in a row in the Carabao Cup. In addition to those two wonderful strikes, he has two goals and two assists in the Championship this term, and he completes 80% of his tackles. He’s a good player, he’s only 24, and he could be a good option to rest Baines even if he isn’t quite ready to be the everyday starter for a club our size yet.
Oh, and in case you don’t love him enough already, he would be a perfect fit at the People’s Club because he does things like offer to pay for the leg rehab of a footballer at a smaller club. Oh, and there’s this:
Baba Rahman, Chelsea
Baba spent last year as a rotational piece for Schalke, the year before he was a go-to player for Augsburg in the German top flight. That experience is valuable, and he is a good player, but the main selling point here is that he is part of Chelsea’s loan army. You see, there are few greater joys in the world of football than taking a player Chelsea is too dumb to use, helping them fulfill their potential, and then reaping the rewards in performances and transfer fees.
Kevin De Bruyne
The biggest downside? He’s not Joe Bryan.
Patrick van Aanholt
When Sam Allardyce is your coach, there are certain guys you are going to get linked to, and van Aanholt is one of them. He’s played for Sam twice, at Sunderland and at Crystal Palace. He’s experienced and serviceable, a fortunate survivor of Chelsea’s attempt to loan his career to death.
He’s been a Dutch international, though that doesn’t exactly carry the panache it once did. To sum up, he’s fine. Not something I’d really get too excited about, but if our search description is “better than Cuco Martina at left back” he, like a three hundred pound, sixty-five year old retiree, fits the bill. It wouldn’t be a bad move, it just wouldn’t be an exciting one.
Everton moving so quickly on Cenk Tosun gives us time to find the right defender (right defender meaning Joe Bryan of course). That right defender may be costly, but it would also be worth it in the long run. Proper cover for Baines is going to be a crucial part of salvaging this season by getting back up to seventh with a chance of European places, and with a striker in tow that should be our next order of business.