It’s fair to say that the news of Cuco Martina’s proposed move to Everton is not one that has stirred the Blues faithful. On the contrary, numerous Evertonians are already lamenting the idea and suggesting there are better players out there to be had.
In truth, there’s some sense to that notion. Martina has hardly set the world alight during his time as a backup at Southampton. Saints fans will happily tell you that he’s among the worst players they’ve seen play for the club.
However, there are two major bonuses to his move that nearly everyone is overlooking. The first is the impact his arrival will have on Jonjoe Kenny. A star in David Unsworth’s title-winning Under-23 side last season, the feeling is that the young right-back is ready to make the step up into Ronald Koeman’s first team. His performances for England this summer have only strengthened that.
And with Seamus Coleman out until the New Year at the earliest as he recovers from his broken leg, there’s no better time for Kenny to push himself into contention.
Bringing Martina in to cover for Kenny in this period makes sense. He’s not ready to be playing Premier League, domestic cup football and European football all in one season. Not in his first year in the senior team.
Signing Martina will help to negate that by giving Koeman much needed back up at right back and the option to rotate in the position as required. It will also give Kenny competition for his place, something all youngsters need if they are to thrive in the first team setup.
Martina’s arrival would also be good news for another of Everton’s young defenders, Mason Holgate. The youngster has filled in admirably (at times) at right back since Coleman’s untimely injury but the fact of the matter is, he is not a right back. As many have observed, the 20-year-old is a natural centre back and has the potential to be a very fine one indeed, given playing time in the position.
By bringing in Martina that will allow Koeman to do just that. Holgate will become one of the centre back options and more importantly, Koeman and his team can focus their attentions on developing him further in the position.
It’s easy to imagine that Koeman, arguably one of the best centre-backs in the history of football, will have a thing or two to teach Holgate to aid his game.
Let’s not beat around the bush, Martina is nowhere near an exciting signing, far from it. He will be a squad player at best at the club. However, if his arrival can truly aid the development of both Holgate and Kenny by giving them the playing time they need, then his arrival should be warmly welcomed.
Trust Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh on this, it may actually be a smarter move than you think it is at first glance. At least, that’s the hope.