After signing the promising young striker from Juventus just last summer, Everton have yet to receive the return that they imagined from Moise Kean. While his form never saw him receive consistent playing time over either Richarlison or Dominic Calvert-Lewin, he has looked good in spots. However, not Marco Silva, nor Duncan Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti have, thus far, been able to coax more than mere flashes of what we have seen during Kean’s young career prior to his move from Italy and now Everton are left in a potentially curious position.
While it is no question that Kean has talent and ability, it is a question of maturity, confidence and ambition; there have been rumors of his exit, rumors that he will remain, rumors of loan deals and of straight transfers. But what, ultimately, is best for both Everton and Moise Kean? For the Toffees are in a strange place, with players and a manager good enough to be competing at a higher level than they did last year, alongside players who might still need further time, patience and development; is there perhaps a happy medium that can be found?
Moise Kean: A Riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma
When Marcel Brands and Marco Silva pulled the trigger on the deal for the striker from just outside of Turin, the deal was widely applauded. Here was a teenage striker with great finishing poise, having played in Serie A with Juventus and at Hellas Verona on loan. The player was seen as having immense potential while still only a teenager; imagining him as a number nine was mouthwatering and Everton looked ready, alongside Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and the also newly signed Alex Iwobi, to make a jump in competitiveness.
While his ability and passion were enough to get Kean called up to the Italian national team, where he has scored two goals in only three appearances, his time playing in Italy, his home country, was also marked by abhorrent racism. In the early months of his first season in Merseyside, the Everton supporters made a banner with the youngster’s face on it, supporting him and denouncing the racism that he suffered before; it was certainly a beautiful showing.
But the 20-year-old never seemed to completely adapt and become comfortable, neither in England, nor with Everton. He was largely unable to produce when given the chances to do so, and so became an afterthought to both Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. While the former was widely believed to take the next step over last season, I think Calvert-Lewin surprised a lot of people in England, on the national team and Toffees around the globe; Kean was routinely the odd man out, scoring only two goals in 29 appearances overall while acting as a substitute often.
During the COVID-19 lockdown and suspension of the Premier League, Kean found himself in hot water as he broke social distancing and safety measures by partying; on top of the pressure to perform, he was now facing questions of his commitment to Everton. While he apologized and pleaded that the circumstance was simply a misunderstanding, the circumstance, alongside his year on the pitch has brought us to this point; does Moise Kean have a future with Everton?
A transfer, a loan, or does Moise Kean remain at Goodison Park?
The answer I believe, is yes, Kean does have a future at Everton - the key word has to be understood as “future” however. The Italian did improve over the year, and persistence is important for a developing career; Everton should continue to use him as a substitute. With another year as a professional under his belt, alongside the increased support the Toffees are lining up in the midfield, as well as potential weaponry out wide, Kean will have a better opportunity to demonstrate himself properly. To this point, I think it is more fair to judge Kean with a Carlo Ancelotti team and proper support than with the disjointed campaign of last season; moving Moise Kean in a permanent ways seems reactionary, as well as professionally and personally tactless.
Instead, if for some reason Everton were not interested in continuing to grow and incorporate the player, they should seriously consider loaning him out instead. If Kean feels like a small fish in a suddenly larger, tougher pond than before, than perhaps he needs to be temporarily relocated to a smaller pond so to speak; Everton should consider this as well as the potential positives of doing so.
The more experience he gets in whatever league, country, division and so on, the better he will ultimately grow to be. The same can be said for proper coaching, but should Ancelotti build something meaningful on Merseyside, Kean can likely still benefit from proper coaching even with a loan move; if Kean can get some real playing time in a circumstance where he perhaps has more confidence in his ability against his opposition, it could certainly light a fire under Kean, propelling him onward when he returns to Everton afterwards.
A swap-transfer for Aaron Ramsey would be useful in the short term, should he be able to remain healthy, but it would undercut the long term growth of the club. Surely an only 20-year-old Kean has more to give in his career than does an almost 30-year-old Ramsey? Were Ramsey able to be had without losing Kean, I could see having him in the midfield or providing width on the right, but he is simply not worth the swap when one looks at the totality of the proposition.
Keeping Kean for the future is important but should he be able to produce for Everton now, why not keep him and grow that talent? It could be rewarding in as unexpected a way as his last season was a disappointment. Alternatively, let him grow in a more comfortable environment or scenario, but do not sell him permanently. There is no reason to put ourselves in the circumstance to wonder, what if, as Kean becomes a force elsewhere and doesn’t return? Patience is a virtue, and one Toffees know quite well over the years and abandoning it for a player of this potential at such a young age would truly be a mistake.