Everton is extremely well stocked in talented young wingers and one of them has found his way back onto the training pitch after extensive time out with a knee injury. Henry Onyekuru, who had an excellent start to the season at Anderlecht before getting injured, is back on the pitch and ideally will get some playing time this season with Anderlecht and a call-up to the World Cup with Nigeria to be ready for next year.
For those who may not remember, Onyekuru is a pure scoring winger. Very direct in his gameplay, do not expect him to be much of a creator but if you need someone to get on the end of a ball and put it in the back of the net, he’s your guy. Here’s what his statistical radar looked like at Anderlecht before he went out with a knee injury -
I wasn't sure about Henry Onyekuru this summer due to lack of data, but this is stompy.— Ted Knutson (@mixedknuts) October 17, 2017
Looks like Everton nailed this one. pic.twitter.com/8fFtU61P3H
Those touches in the box, xG/shot and xG/90 numbers show a young player with a killer instinct, which Everton could really use. With all due respect to Yannick Bolasie, who is one of my favorite players on the Blues, he would be of much greater use to us if his style matched that of the young Nigerian.
In league play for Anderlecht, Onyekuru averaged a goal every 154 minutes, while also appearing in six Champions League games (in which his side was always outmatched). This kind of production from a 20 year old probably indicates that he might not be on the career path to being a Premier League superstar, but he should have a significant role in the first team in the near future.
I am so grateful to be able to be back running and back with the ball at my feet. Its been a journey, Thank you all for your prayers and support! The Lord is truely my strength! pic.twitter.com/TrV1EWAL59— Henry Onyekuru (@henryconyekuru) March 21, 2018
As an athlete, the hardest part of returning from a knee injury are the mental aspects. First, getting to that point where you can plant hard and change direction on the knee without thinking twice about whether it’s going to hold, and second, how do you react to the first rough collision you have mid competition.
Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori has been dealing with these and had Bolasie to support him during his rehabilitation, and now it appears both senior players can help motivate Onyekuru in his return.
These are obstacles Onyekuru will face in the coming weeks, and we wish him all the best through it. In the end, it’s been a really rough injury year for the Everton family, and we hope all the players come back better than ever. In this budding star’s case, doing so could find him under the bright lights of the Premier League sooner rather than later.