Ronald Koeman insists that no one at Everton expected Davy Klaassen to find the transition from the Dutch Eredivisie to the Premier League so challenging but admits that with the benefit of hindsight it may have been too big a leap.
Klaassen arrived with much fanfare last summer when he was signed from Ajax Amsterdam in a big-money, £23.6m deal and was expected to become an integral part of a new-look midfield that had, in theory, been bolstered by the acquisition of Wayne Rooney and would later be augmented by Gylfi Sigurdsson .
The Dutch international made a fairly promising debut in the season opener against Stoke but it quickly became evident as the Toffees' ground through a tough run of fixtures that he was finding the move from Ajax difficult.
Klaassen lost his place in the team as his compatriot battled to turn Everton's form around and by the time David Unsworth had taken over as interim boss and Sam Allardyce was then appointed as Koeman's replacement, righting the 24-year-old's form was no longer a high priority.
Without a Premier League start since October, it looked as though Klaassen might get an opportunity to shine over the last couple of months now that the threat of relegation had passed but apart from a recent substitute's appearance, he has remained in the wilderness.
“He had a difficult start at Everton, that was disappointing,“ Koeman told Ziggo Sport, “but you can not say that he does not train hard and works hard.”
“He had trouble with the aggressiveness and the tempo. You do not get time in the midfield [in the Premier League].
“I was disappointed with Davy. What did not help him was that we did not have a striker. Romelu Lukaku left and the arrival of Olivier Giroud did not go through at the last moment.
“I really expected him to adapt more easily. Nobody in the club had doubts about him. Not in the Netherlands either.
“Klaassen was someone we spent a lot of money for and who could have really played a role in the midfield. In retrospect, you may have to doubt whether the step was not too big.”
Klaassen was the subject of serious interest from Napoli during the January transfer window which could have given him an early escape from his struggles in England.
A proposed move collapsed, however, amid reports of a contractual disagreement over his image rights. Speculation persists that the midfielder could yet move to Serie A this summer.
Quotes sourced from Ziggo Sport via Football Oranje