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Everton lose another defender after loanee leaves on permanent deal

Nkounkou appeared to have found his level in Ligue 2

Everton Pre-Season Training Match Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

French second division side St Etienne announced today the signing of Everton fullback Niels Nkounkou on a permanent transfer after the completion of his loan deal. The transfer fee being reported is about £1.7 million, which is on the higher end of purchases made by Ligue 2 sides especially with St Etienne nowhere near promotion contention.

The 22-year-old had spent the second half of the season in Ligue 2 where he seemed to have found his level, scoring six times and adding eight assists while playing mostly as a left wingback for St Etienne. Previous to that he had been with Cardiff City in the Championship for the first half of the 2022/23 season where he struggled at the left back position, appearing 18 times and picking up one assist.

Nkounkou was deemed surplus to needs at Everton this season under Frank Lampard, and Sean Dyche saw no use for him given his preference for a 4-man backline. The Blues could certainly have used a left-sided player to close out the season after Vitaliy Mykolenko was injured and his loan backup Ruben Vinagre was not deemed fit to play either, forcing Dwight McNeil into a more defensive role.

The Paris-born player was signed by the Blues in the summer of 2020 on a free transfer after he chose not to renew his contract with Olympique Marseille’s youth set-up. Since then he featured seven times in total for the first team, mostly used in early-round cup action.

The departure of Nkounkou only serves to solidify the need for an attacking left-back or left wingback to provide the Ukraine international competition going into next season.