Everton Loanee Earns Award for Stunning Performances
Everton loanee Niels Nkounkou was named Player of the Month for April 2023 in France’s second division.
He scored 4 goals and added 2 assists in five matches in April. The young Frenchman has broken out this season, amassing six goals and seven assists in 17 games.
Nkounkou is in the final year of his three-year contract. His performance with Saint-Ettiene has been his best out on loan.
The Frenchman did not register a goal or assist while out on loan for Belgian side Standard Liege in 23 matches during the 2021/22 season.
He registered one assist with Cardiff City in 18 matches in the first half of 2022. Now, going home to play for Les Verts, he has broken out with exceptional production. Nkounkou was also one of five players nominated for Best Player of Ligue 2.
Playing in a wing-back role within a 3-5-2 formation, Nkounkou is given more opportunity to attack opposing defenses with his speed and dribbling ability.
In the seven matches he played For Everton prior to being loaned out, he showed flashes of his technical ability. His downfalls were his inexperience showing mistakes in defense and being out of position.
Playing further forward could be something Everton adopts to get him on the field. However, Dwight McNeil has starred on the left side this season and I’m not sure if Nkounkou would overtake his spot next season.
Everton has faced issues in the left-back spot this season, with Vitaly Mykoleko being inconsistent and Sean Dyche not confident in playing the only other left-back on the roster, Ruben Vinagre.
The club has the decision to make whether or not Nkounkou will receive a contract extension. He is only 22 years old and has plenty of room to grow.
I believe Dyche should give him a chance to show what he’s made of. His loan spells have given him an opportunity to get minutes and experience, albeit not at the Premier League level.
In a recent interview, Nkounkou talked about his journey being loaned out to different clubs and the instability it brings. He desires a chance to play, and he deserves it.
If Everton were to be relegated this season, that would provide a chance for Nkounkou to continue his development, playing major minutes in the championship.
However, if Everton does survive the relegation fight, he will be stuck with earning minutes to play in the top flight of English football, with a demanding and high-standard manager in Sean Dyche.
The French national has tons of potential from the left side. The question is whether he will find this potential as a Blue or elsewhere.