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CONFIRMED: Everton youngster signs contract extension, joins Cardiff on loan

French left back Niels Nkounkou to spend season in the Championship

Everton v Dynamo Kyiv - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Everton’s 21-year-old French left back Niels Nkounkou is set to spend the second successive season away from Goodison Park, and his destination is mid-table Championship side Cardiff City.

He did get several minutes game time whilst at the July USA training camp but since the incoming loan signing of Portuguese player Ruben Vinagre and of course the form of Ukrainian Vitaliy Mykolenko, he has clearly slipped out of the first team picture.

He signed a new contract with Everton which keeps him with the Blues until June 2024. This does give him financial security as a Premiership player and also protects the Blues’ investment as he cannot walk away as a free agent in June next year for instance, without a development fee being paid.

It’s not clear what the longer term future holds for the left back. Ever since Everton signed him on a free transfer from Marseille it has been clear that he has a lot of talent especially going forward with pace and he possesses a good left foot. However, as we have seen in the very few Premier League minutes, the odd Carabao Cup game and pre-season friendlies he has played, there is a recurring habit of being caught out positionally in defence.

Under the expert eye of first team coach Ashley Cole for example, those weaknesses will not have gone unnoticed and in the unforgiving world of the top flight it is no surprise that he is currently overlooked. Being 21 before the start of this calendar year meant he would also have counted as a member of Frank Lampard’s 25-man squad.

His loan spell with Standard Liege in Belgium last season was quite a good time for him. He featured in 23 of their games and had a good season. So there is hope yet that playing at Championship level will further boost his defensive awareness and confidence levels whilst honing his obvious attacking strengths. There’s certainly a player in there somewhere! Good luck Niels!