As the transfer window was getting ready to shut at the end of September there was an unease for Everton fans as they were watching the summer drift away without a new striker being signed. The injury to Dominic Calvert Lewin only magnified the problem and it was not until the final week of window when the announcement was made that Neal Maupay would be joining Everton from Brighton for a fee in the region of £16 million on a three-year contract.
The frustration continued as he was unable to be registered in time and as a result he missed both the Brentford and Leeds United games. Maupay was finally able to make his debut in the Merseyside Derby and led the line for the full 90 minutes. While he was unable to mark his maiden Merseyside Derby with a goal, he came very close to grabbing the winner and showed his willingness to run the channels and work for the team.
He has recently been speaking out about his move and has been trumpeting the great work that Everton in the Community is doing throughout Merseyside. What is clear from the coverage is his immediate connection to both the team and the community. He describes the move from Brighton as “a step up” and described the arrival of the team bus to Goodison Park on Derby Day.
“The coach welcome was the best I’ve ever seen. It was just so great.
“It’s only when you actually see things like that you realise how much it means to the fans and the people of Everton.
“I wouldn’t say it gave me more motivation - because I always do my best - but if you feel tired, or you are struggling during a game, that’s what you think about these people.”
The French national spent the last four years under the tutelage of Graham Potter and says he sees similarities between Potter and his new boss Frank Lampard. Brighton & Hove Albion struggled to stay in the Premier League in his first season there and has since finished in 16th and 9th in the last two years. This year, before the departure of Potter to Chelsea, Brighton were sitting in the Champions League spots with four wins, one draw and one loss.
“So football changes. Just because we were struggling yesterday doesn’t mean that tomorrow won’t be good. We’ve got everything at this club - the fans, the structure, the manager and the players. I’ve been in the process at Brighton where we had a new manager and new players. We had two tough seasons. The third one was the good one.
“Last season, Lampard came in and had to save the club. Now is the time for him to work on a system and how we want to play. We haven’t had any wins yet this season, but when I look at the games I see a lot of positives. At Brentford, we were winning, it was the same at Leeds, and we drew with Liverpool.
“I think it’s only a matter of time before we turn these draws into wins and the losses into draws.”
The big question now is whether the 26-year-old striker can get down to the work and help to turn those results into wins. He has been with us for almost a month and has only been able to play one game. Today’s game will give us another chance to see what he can do with this team. Unfortunately, the international break will arrive and there will be another gap in playing time. Added to this will be the imminent return of Calvert Lewin. Will that return then limit Maupay’s playing time?
Throughout Calvert Lewin’s absence it was obvious that we were missing a target man. Calvert Lewin plays that role with aplomb. Can Lampard find a way to play the two-up top in some situations? With Maupay’s speed and Calvert Lewin’s ability to hold up the play or flick on the ball, will this give us another dimension that can further enhance our play going forward? All of these questions may be answered in the next couple of games. What we can say is that Neal Maupay is here to help the team and increase the joy that our fans are craving.
“They love the club and they would give everything to be on that pitch to play, so you’ve got to fight and give everything. I look at the fans and think ‘we can make these people happy and proud.”