Since the injury that disrupted the start to his career on Merseyside, Jean-Philippe Gbamin has been struck by injury setback after injury setback. Over a year having passed since the initial injury, the team that he first came to looks similar in certain ways, but different in a bevy of others.
Marco Silva is long gone, and while Don Carlo and Big Dunc have brought the team to impressive heights so far during their first, full campaign commanding the club, the supporting cast of the club has some impressive new faces. James Rodriguez, Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Ben Godfrey and Niels Nkounkou have all come in and played impressively amongst the familiar faces of Goodison, but many of those names have been in better form as well. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison in particular have looked phenomenal as well.
So with this noted, how does Jean-Philippe Gbamin fit into the future of Everton football? Surely, the Boss can figure a place for him in time?
Don Carlo and Everton’s Embarrassment of Riches
When Everton purchased Gbamin from FC Mainz after the sale of Idrissa Gueye to Paris St. Germain, they needed a strong defensive midfielder to protect the poorly organized but talented backline. They quickly saw glimpses of the potential that the player showed in Germany before he became surprisingly unavailable for the Aston Villa match that would shock both Everton as well as their fans. It was only after the match that the extent of the injury was disclosed. And so with his injury and multiple setbacks, the club have had to turn to other options; Allan now plays centrally, albeit a bit higher up the pitch, and so now the question becomes, how does Everton use Gbamin when he comes back at the end of November?
His return will be crucial just as the schedule becomes particularly dense for the club. The end of November, through all of December, is an absolute trainwreck of matches on top of matches, nearly every three days or so. Even with the depth and summer window innovations, another talented player can only help the club with navigating the Premier League and Carabao Cup, as well as the FA Cup eventually too.
In my mind, the midfield has players in it already to support Allan when he isn’t playing. And while JPG would be able to add another versatile, intelligent player to choose from, he might also be able to serve centrally along the backline as well. We’ve already seen Don Carlo’s willingness to use players at different positions, like the greats in football are able to. Lucas Digne has played as a centre back, Ben Godfrey played right back on his debut against the Reds just the other day, and Gbamin’s defensive ability, mixed with his own creativity and ambition, could be “Fernandinho-esque” so to speak.
For the boss and his assistants, the return of Jean-Philippe is just further good fortune towards a more versatile, dangerous and persistent group. Whether it’s slotting JPG in rotation with Allan, Andre Gomes and Tom Davis, or providing more depth in front of Jordan Pickford, no one at Finch Farm will complain about the great competition for playing time across multiple positions.
And finding positions for him to play will be crucial for the player himself as well. He will have to commit to being so versatile and ambitious, but under Carlo Ancelotti, more players tend to find their creativity more easily than usual.
One cannot help but to feel badly for such a promising talent talent, struck repeatedly by poor fortune and timing. While we often think about the club above individuals, it is the best type of innovation that sees a player revitalize their career after hardships, as the team benefits from the belief in that player, despite the problems. When we see JPG, it will be wonderful for all parties involved to see his triumph over pain, and the impact he can still make on Everton.