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Everton 2019-20 Season Preview: Strikers

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Is Moise Kean the answer to the Blues’ misfiring front line?

Italy U21 Training Session & Press Conference
Kean joined Everton this week for £30 million
Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

2018-19 Everton Strikers

Player Minutes Goals Assists
Player Minutes Goals Assists
Dominic Calvert-Lewin 1974 8 3
Cenk Tosun 1226 4 3
Oumar Niasse 1115 0 1

Tactics

In his debut season as manager, not once did Marco Silva opt for more than one striker up front, almost always choosing Gylfi Sigurðsson to play just behind whoever led the line instead.

And it is hard to judge yet whether it is a particularly fruitful setup for his front men. The Blues’ three recognised senior strikers - Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Cenk Tosun and Oumar Niasse - managed just 12 goals between them last term, with winger and top scorer Richarlison often deputising as a makeshift centre-forward.

Everton v Southampton - Premier League
Tosun and Calvert-Lewin both found goals hard to come by last season
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Certainly, Sigurðsson provides the ammunition for them, as do full-backs Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman. Whether they, or new signing Moise Kean, will fare any better this season, only time will tell.

Current Players

Moise Kean

The answer to Everton’s patent striking woes or another expensive mistake of Farhad Moshiri’s reign? All signs point to the former being the answer, but patience should be required with Kean, who only turns 20 in February.

Kean leaves Juventus with a large price tag of about £30 million and an even bigger reputation; he was the first player born in this century to play in one of Europe’s five major leagues and in the Champions League, and to score for the Italian national team, and is regarded as one of football’s hottest young prospects.

A record of 12 goals in 41 first team games hardly screams prolific, but he has an obvious enormous drive to succeed, and his stoic response to vile racist abuse last season only underlined a maturity belying his youth.

He might not hit the ground running - which he should be forgiven for - but all signs point to Kean being a shrewd piece of business.

Juventus v Torino FC - Serie A
Kean (right) played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus last season
Photo by Valerio Pennicino - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

He is undoubtedly one of the more polarising Everton players, though perhaps fans are simply guilty of expecting too much too soon from Calvert-Lewin, 22.

In fact, there is little to fault about Calvert-Lewin; he provides a great aerial presence, he holds the ball up well, and his work rate is faultless. It’s just his goal return which is lacking, and for strikers, that’s all that really matters.

It is one of few areas of Calvert-Lewin’s game which needs significant and urgent improvement, because currently, everything else is already in place for him to reach the next level. He will get ample opportunity to do so, though; of that there is no doubt.

FC Everton v FC Sevilla - Opel Cup 2019
Calvert-Lewin is young but is guilty of missing too many key chances
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Cenk Tosun

The future looks less bright at Goodison Park for Tosun, though, who looks as if he could benefit from a change of scenery at this point in his Everton career.

A return of nine goals in 43 appearances just is not good enough from a man Everton paid Besiktas £27 million for in January 2018, even if he, too, has an unquestionable, admirable work ethic.

It is not just his profligacy, though. Tosun clearly is far from a bad footballer, but his preferred style of play is clearly at odds with that of his manager’s.

While Silva prefers a more free-flowing approach, the Turk probably was more suited to the physical, unattractive style of play adopted by the manager who signed him, Sam Allardyce.

If he gets many chances this season, it should be more due to a dearth of other striking options, rather than on merit. An evidently lovely guy, but not what Everton need.

Crystal Palace v Everton FC - Premier League
Tosun’s Everton career has failed to ignite
Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images

Oumar Niasse

That Niasse has made just 39 Everton appearances since joining in February 2016, and embarked on two loan spells at later-relegated Premier League clubs, epitomises the fragmented nature of his time on Merseyside.

It was fun for a while, when his goals briefly saved Ronald Koeman’s job, and he genuinely looked Everton’s greatest threat; however unorthodox a fashion he converted chances only adding to the sense of awe and excitement in watching him.

But Niasse scored not a single goal for Everton or Cardiff City last season, and especially now Kean has arrived, his race is run, though not at all due to lack of effort.

Everton v Southampton - Carabao Cup Third Round
Niasse (right) is not the answer for Everton
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

I don’t want to talk about Sandro, so we won’t.

State of the Position

High on quantity, low on quality would probably best describe the state of Everton’s striking options.

While Silva will probably pick one from the above four for most games, Tosun, Niasse and Calvert-Lewin rarely, if ever, inspire confidence among fans that they will hit the net.

All signs point Kean to being a success, but let’s not place unnecessary pressure on a teenager who does not even have 50 senior club appearances under his belt.