Everton pick up French U19 international fullback

Thursday, 2 July, 2020 61comments  |  Jump to last

Everton have announced the acquisition of Niels Nkounkou, a 19-year-old left back who arrives on a free transfer from Marseille.

Nkounkou reportedly turned down a professional contract with the Ligue 1 club and was tipped to join Juventus.

Everton have stepped in, however, and added him to their Under-23 squad. He joins compatriots Lucas Digne and Djibril Sidibé at Finch Farm after signing a 3-year deal.

"Niels is a young, talented player with good technical and physical skills," said Director of Football, Marcel Brands, of the teenager who can also operate in midfield. "We have been following him for months.

"Hopefully he can learn a lot from Lucas Digne and Leighton Baines, as well as Carlo Ancelotti and David Unsworth, and follow the same pathway into the first team the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Mason Holgate have taken in recent years."

The players' agent, Yvan Le Mée, explained to Foot Mercato that Ancelotti spoke with his client and convinced him that his prospects of playing first-team football sooner rather than later were stronger at Goodison than by staying in France.

“Today, the possibility is stronger for Niels to be on the pitch at Everton than at Marseille," he said. "There is also a coach named Carlo Ancelotti who called the player, who spoke to him, and who knows the player's potential.

“He says that by working with the player, he can make him a top player. It is also important for us to have a coach who wants the player. If we add the club's infrastructure and the next arrival of the new stadium, the project presented is attractive.”

Everton were able to sign the player, whose contract had ended on 30 June, after the Premier League were given special dispensation to open the transfer window for next season on July 1, but only for 24 hours, in order for clubs to register new players where agreements had been reached.

It is expected that the Premier League window will re-open at the end of the month, and may run through early October — Fifa are recommending they close by 5 October. The dates and duration of the English transfer window are expected to be discussed at a Premier League meeting next week.

 

Reader Comments (61)

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Sam Hoare
1 Posted 02/07/2020 at 11:43:15
Sounds like we have our first signing of the window. Niels Nkounkou on a free transfer from Marseille. He's 19 years old and they reckon he'll probably go into U23s next year and if all goes well be a back-up for Digne when Baines leaves next year. Perhaps if Baines leaves this summer we may have to sign a more experienced back up?

Not heard much about the player but he has a few caps for France international youth teams and was apparently wanted by Juventus and Leipzig, which bodes very well if true.

Colin Glassar
2 Posted 02/07/2020 at 12:22:09
Everton sign Nkounkou (?) from Marseille on a free!!
Danny Baily
3 Posted 02/07/2020 at 12:27:09
New signing at left back looks promising. Picking up players in positions we actually need strengthening, it's been a while!

Can't help but think that, if we're serious about silverware, Pickford has to go. Let's hope Carlo has a bargain keeper on his radar. Such a shame we let Robles go.

Mark Andersson
4 Posted 02/07/2020 at 20:31:25
Lets hope he turns out to be a gem.. good luck lad.. work hard give your all for the shirt and the fans will love ya...
Jack Convery
5 Posted 02/07/2020 at 21:00:11
Kept that quiet - that's the way to do it.
Joe McMahon
6 Posted 02/07/2020 at 21:02:50
Fingers crossed, now for a cheeky bid for Phil Foden from Man City.
Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 02/07/2020 at 21:10:32
Joe (6), Phil Foden's agent is a Scouser and a Liverpool fan, I know you were only joking!!
Paul Hewitt
8 Posted 02/07/2020 at 21:26:08
We have Tom Davies. We don't need Foden.
Derek Knox
10 Posted 02/07/2020 at 22:00:32
These are the sort of signings I had hoped for when Marcel Brands came on board, however I am a little surprised that he is another potential LB. I would have been more cheerful had he been a right back, with the ability to get further forward!

Having said all that, welcome aboard lad, hope you mature with us, and prove to be a bargain.

Kevin Prytherch
11 Posted 02/07/2020 at 22:19:15
Derek - as you said. These are the types of transfers I was expecting from Brands. These and £1-£5million unknown gambles who have the potential to improve.

Hopefully he turns out ok and it's a sign of things to come. He now has him and Branthwaite in the past few months.

Tony Everan
12 Posted 02/07/2020 at 22:25:11
Leipzig we're trying to sign him too. He will be an interesting one to follow over the next season or two. There's obviously some raw talent and plenty of potential there for a few top clubs to be after him.

A big welcome and good luck to him.

Kieran Kinsella
13 Posted 02/07/2020 at 22:41:27
Interesting Brands announced not Unsworth with his under 23 budget although he did get a mention in passing
Tom Bowers
14 Posted 02/07/2020 at 22:41:46
Hope he turns out a better acquisition than Antoni Robinson.
Dennis Stevens
15 Posted 02/07/2020 at 23:04:02
What, without an underlying heart condition, Tom? I'm sure we all hope the same there.
Mark Andersson
16 Posted 02/07/2020 at 23:31:44
Well if he don't make it we cant say what a waste of money...
Ajay Gopal
17 Posted 03/07/2020 at 05:00:34
Is this Carlo's first signing? A little bit underwhelming in that case, but it is these signings that fly under the radar that sometimes become invaluable - Coleman, DCL, Holgate, etc.
Jim Harrison
18 Posted 03/07/2020 at 06:20:31
Danny 3

Robles was, and probably still is, pants. A run of the mill keeper.
Not saying Pickford is the answer, but if Robles is the answer our ambitions are pretty low.

John Keating
19 Posted 03/07/2020 at 07:19:55
Rumour of Morellos from Rangers
If so we will need to sign another striker as Morellos will miss most of the season and not due to injury!
If we do go for a forward then it has to be Edouard from Celtic
Robert Tressell
20 Posted 03/07/2020 at 07:23:36
Fills a clear gap. Encouraging that Leipzig were interested. The french league probably remains the best place for good value. Extraordinary conveyor belt of talent.
Dick Fearon
21 Posted 03/07/2020 at 07:25:07
Danny @3, If you think Robles was better than Pickford I do not think much of your judgement. Jordan is still young for a keeper and can only get better. Many famous keepers only achieved that accolade when well into their 30s.
Marc Hints
22 Posted 03/07/2020 at 07:27:05
The Liverpool Echo keep saying there won't be any big signings this summer only loans or swap deals
Mike Gaynes
23 Posted 03/07/2020 at 08:14:25
Oh dear Lord, Danny... Robles? Really? Age 30, now a first-choice keeper for the first time in his 12-year career. And having a miserable time of it -- he has surrendered 49 of Betis's 54 goals against, second-worst in La Liga. Please do not waste one more regret on that guy.

I want to make a suggestion for our desperately needed defensive midfield position, and I'm unashamedly waving the American flag as I do.

Weston McKennie has emerged as the best young #8 in the Bundesliga, and he wants to leave Schalke. A ferocious ballwinner with excellent attacking skills. Incredibly versatile -- has started in eight different positions for Schalke.

Go get him, Marcel.

Robert Tressell
24 Posted 03/07/2020 at 08:42:51
Too early for the Echo to say how the transfer market will play out. Loans and swaps make some sense but are not 'free' – there will be all sorts of commercial shenanigans, fees and taxes to pay (as we saw with the disposal of Schneiderlin).

Actually buying a player on sensible commercial terms might be much cheaper or better value in effect. Plus lots of big clubs around Europe are over-stocked and or on the brink and need to sell.

Colin Glassar
25 Posted 03/07/2020 at 08:55:05
Sounds like Zouma might be coming back to us.
Hugh Jenkins
26 Posted 03/07/2020 at 09:20:23
Colin (26), where did you hear that - and, do we need him? If he is not considered good enough for Frank at Chelsea, why is he good enough for us?
Sam Hoare
27 Posted 03/07/2020 at 09:39:01
Mike @24 there's been some noise about McKinnie. I'm not quite convinced myself.

He seems to have a good engine and a great leap but, as of yet, he does not do quite enough on the ball. Or make quite enough tackles or interceptions to merit his lack of penetration on the ball.

He's very young of course and has definite potential to grow. If he was in the 㾶-15M bracket, he could well be worth a punt but my understanding is that he'd be more than that. In which case I still think I'd opt for Sangare, who has a similar profile but makes more tackles: both players need technical improvement.

As for Zouma, I'd take him in a heartbeat if it was around the 㿀M mark. Very quick, very strong and a hugely effective defender when well coached in the right system. If Gabriel picks Napoli over us (and with my neutral hat on, I probably would), then Zouma makes a very low-risk alternative if the price is right.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
28 Posted 03/07/2020 at 09:54:56
Reports that he chose us over Juve because of Carlo.
Colin Glassar
29 Posted 03/07/2020 at 10:29:30
Social media, Hugh, I think it's in the Mail Online now.
Alan J Thompson
30 Posted 03/07/2020 at 10:54:33
Did Baines only sign an extension until the end of the season or for next year as well? As I don't see this lad would turn down Juventus for us unless there was a chance of a first-team run out. Of course, there may be the money side to consider.
Ajay Gopal
31 Posted 03/07/2020 at 11:03:03
ESPN reporting that Man City and Chelsea may shift their attention to Lucas Digne if they cannot get a deal done for Ben Chilwell.
Marc Hints
32 Posted 03/07/2020 at 11:20:47
Alan #31, it's just to the end of the season, he hasn't made a decision yet to stay another year.
Martin Berry
33 Posted 03/07/2020 at 11:25:02
Brands and the scouts have obviously been impressed to have him watched (for months) then actually having him signed as he mentions.

Good luck to the lad and welcome to Everton.

Mike Allison
34 Posted 03/07/2020 at 12:23:11
We've all seen so many lauded youngsters arrive only to disappoint (Garbutt might be the clearest example) and I think we can be guilty of expecting too much. Often the club is to blame as they over-hype the player and over-sell the importance of the signing. That doesn't seem to be happening here, which hopefully is ‘the Brands way.'

He's going to be an u-23 player next season and has zero first team appearances to his name. My advice is to forget he exists and hope, very mildly, for a pleasant surprise in a year's time.

James Flynn
35 Posted 03/07/2020 at 15:02:25
Mike (24) - A yes on McKennie.

I don't think much of the Bundesliga overall. I will watch if one of our American boys will be on TV or Jonjoe Kenny. 22 next month, McKennie's proven himself there, paid his dues, etc.

"Unashamedly waving the American flag". I'll do some. Since the late 90s, we've regularly had an American signed by and played for Everton. It's 4 years since Timmy left. Another would be nice. I know that only means something to you, me, and the other Americans in here.

Even leaving that side, though, Weston always stands out every time I've seen him and for all the good reasons you mention. Think he'd be a terrific signing.

Justin Doone
36 Posted 03/07/2020 at 17:56:32
I think he's a "let's take a gamble and have a closer look" type of player.

He's believed to be pacey and confident. I'm guessing a failed winger so he needs to learn how to defend.

Good luck, lad.

Antony Kelly
37 Posted 03/07/2020 at 18:03:13
Brands sells Robinson to Wigan for buttons, then buys this kid – some strategy that!!

If he had loaned Robinson for another season, Robinson then could have been sold for much much more or brought back to compete for a place in the first team.

In my opinion, Brands is out of his depth. Moise Keane – who looks like a fish out of water – will be his downfall.

Mike Gaynes
38 Posted 03/07/2020 at 18:37:37
Sam #28, you've seen much more of Sangare than I have. What I saw, I liked a lot, but my impression was that he is a zero contributor in attack. He and McKennie are completely different types of players -- Sangare a greyhound, Weston a terrier -- so it's difficult to compare.

Antony #38, don't get me started on Robinson -- I was vociferous about my dismay when we shipped him for beans -- but Brands "out of his depth"??? No way. And I think Kean will develop just fine.

Jeff Armstrong
39 Posted 03/07/2020 at 19:14:49
The Zouma rumours are obviously instigated by his personal team, he's realised he's better off and happier with us, so now agitating for a move back. The thing is, does Ancelotti rate him? that's what matters.

Ancelotti won't suffer Brands's advice, not with the Director of Football's current crop of crap he's having to pick a side from.

Sorry, Kurt, it's probably a No from Carlo.

Richard Mason
40 Posted 03/07/2020 at 19:16:14
According to Ancelotti today, Gbamin should be fit for the start of next season. I was lead to believe that he wouldn't be available until January 2021.

I also wonder now what he will do with the U23 midfielders currently training with the first team: Baningime, Adeniran and Markelo?

Richard Mason
41 Posted 03/07/2020 at 19:19:36
Sorry, my post is in relation to the many centre-midfielders we are supposedly looking at.

I am in agreement that we need one definitely. But I feel Delph needs shifting.

Tony Abrahams
42 Posted 03/07/2020 at 19:20:03
I'm intrigued by this Weston fella, Mike, how good is he?

I know the USA, is not the greatest football nation in the world, but it's a great sporting nation, and the one thing that always impresses me about American sports players, is their ability to work really hard.

They are good team players, the Yanks, and that's what we need at Everton right now, especially if you're describing Weston as a terrier.

Joe McMahon
43 Posted 03/07/2020 at 19:51:29
Richard @41,

I forgot he existed. Thanks for reminding me.

Mike Gaynes
44 Posted 03/07/2020 at 19:59:59
Tony, that's why McKennie would fit right in with us. His pitbull mentality would inspire instant love from the Goodison faithful. And he knows where the net is too.

He'll be a mainstay for years on a US national side that suddenly has more young talent than ever before -- Pulisic of course, but also Gio Reyna at Dortmund, Chris Richards at Bayern, Tyler Adams of Leipzig, Sergino Dest at Ajax, possibly Konrad de la Fuenta at Barcelona.

For the first time, we're seeing very young Yanks at the top clubs in Europe. I think McKennie will be next. And he wants England. We are rumored to be interested, along with Liverpool, Crystal Palace and West Ham.

Steve Shave
45 Posted 03/07/2020 at 20:05:28
The more I am seeing of this new Michael Keane emerging and my strong doubts that we have a buyer lined up for Mina, I am starting to wonder if we need to strengthen with a new centre-back at the moment? I cant see us paying Mina all that £££ just for him to be 4th choice? Doesn't make sense, I wonder if Branthwaite will be kept on as 4th choice.

This creates an exciting possibility for us in that the wonga will be kept for a high quality centre-midfielder and a right-midfielder I hope and pray that we have a clear mind of who these two players will be. This lad for Schalke looks good and a real prospect but definately a risk, if he didn't work out we would be back to Gomes, Davies, Sigurdsson and Delph fighting it out with a potentially crocked Gbamin (poor lad).

So, in my eyes, we need to get this centre-midfielder spot bang on. Allan would fit that mould (no Premier League experience and not the right age) but he has such pedigree he could walk into many teams first 11 playing in the Champions League. Koopmeiners would be another risk.

For right-midfielder I see we are linked with Leon Bailey (more.click bait bullshit probably) but this guy has real quality, can play on both wings and is electric from what I have seen. I for one would not mind if we only brought two players but of real quality.

That doesn't stop me playing football manager in my head and shifting Sigi in one of these deals so we could be getting two centre-midfielders!!! Delph to be reunited with Arteta for what we paid, anyone? Yes please.

Robert Tressell
46 Posted 03/07/2020 at 20:31:52
McKennie would be a good signing. Aerial presence, engine and good attitude – all something we're missing in midfield. Might complement Gomes nicely. Sangare seems to have a better passing range and that nice ability to glide forward with the ball. Both would be ideal.

On the subject of Leon Bailey, he's a cracking player and one who always looked the part as a very young player in Belgium. Could and should have picked him up for buttons then. More of a 4-3-3 type than 4-4-2 though. And, early days I know, but would really like Gordon to be prioritised ahead of new signings now. It's centre-midfield that needs the most investment.

And finally, Mina. Hmm. Kind of okay but not the best. Certainly not our Van Dijk. Keane better in a deep defence. Yerry probably a better bet in a higher line but still not the most mobile. Not as good as Zouma by any stretch. Wages too high to expect a sale any time soon.

Mike Gaynes
47 Posted 03/07/2020 at 21:44:59
Wow, Robert, don't often disagree with you this vehemently but Mina "not as good as Zouma by any stretch"?? WAY off target in my opinion.

Agree on Leon Bailey but I'm pretty sure he'll want a Champions League club, and we ain't it. Yet.

James Flynn
48 Posted 03/07/2020 at 23:26:15
Just read we're in a group of big clubs that have been scouting Leon Bailey. I would love for us to pull that one off.
Steve Shave
49 Posted 03/07/2020 at 23:57:00
Zouma was more effective for us the season we had him than Mina has been, Mike... well, in my humble opinion anyway. I feel quite happy with our centre-back options right now personally. I love Zouma but do we need him?
Mike Gaynes
50 Posted 04/07/2020 at 01:22:26
Steve, guess we'll agree to disagree. I thought Zouma was pretty good. I think Mina is better. Fewer mistakes, better passer out of the back, better in the air.

I do agree that at this point centre-back should be the last priority. I'm fine with our three. We have far more urgent needs.

Kieran Kinsella
51 Posted 04/07/2020 at 01:32:58
Carlo said a few weeks ago we'd bring in two or three quality players. Brands acting like it's a Moyes summer. I wonder if this disconnect is that Carlo's assuming Brands is going to raise some cash by selling off shit. Whereas Brands has been at his little fire sale stand for three years watching Sandro gather dust?
Steve Shave
52 Posted 04/07/2020 at 08:02:50
Mike @51, yes but of course, it's just opinions at the end of the day, who would even come on here if we all agreed on everything?

I am aware you view Zouma's time with us less favourably than others. As you kno,w I thought he was superb towards the end of the season. I guess we may never know how much of that was down to the incredible form of Gueye at the time.

It's interesting how we seem to have swung on this site from seeing a new centre-back as one of the priorities this summer to the possibility we may not need one at all! If Mina could re-capture his early-season form, then there is a really healthy competition for those two starting berths. That said, if we had a buyer for Mina, I'd love to see Gabriel come in.

Congratulations on being reunited with your family again by the way Mike.

Sam Hoare
53 Posted 04/07/2020 at 08:35:05
Mike @39, Sangare is decent in an attacking sense. I think at one point he'd played the most amount of balls into the final third in Ligue 1. He's also a decent dribbler. But gets very few goals, less than McKennie.

I'd rate them fairly similarly but think Sangare will be cheaper and possibly has potential to be more complete. Wylan Cyprien has been transfer-listed apparently, another well-rounded centre-midfielder who brings great set-piece delivery and long shots into the deal.

As for Zouma or Mina, I think the former is probably better in a high line and the latter superior in a deep line. Having them both would give us great flexibility at centre-back but centre-midfield is more of a priority perhaps now with Keane returning to form. I wonder if a loan for John Stones might fill the gap whilst Gibson and Branthwaite develop?

Robert Tressell
54 Posted 04/07/2020 at 08:58:02
Mike, great to hear you've been reunited with family. It must have been about 5 months?

As to the rumours etc. Interesting that Cyprien is available. He is out of contract soon and presumably they're looking for a fee rather than lose him (also, Nice just bought a shit-hot midfield general called Morgan Schneiderlin, so they're overloaded with talent). Box to box, good goals and assist record. Lots to like. See him more as a 4-3-3 player than 4-4-2 but who knows.

Tony Abrahams
55 Posted 04/07/2020 at 11:15:51
Thanks, Mike, he sounds like the type of energetic midfield player we need, especially if Ancelotti is going to persist with a 4-4-2.

That's good news on all those young American footballers you mention; it's only going to be a matter of time before USA becomes a first rate footballing nation, when you consider its great sporting history.

Mick Davies
56 Posted 03/07/2020 at 14:55:46
James @ 35,

Whatever happened to Freddy Adu?

Supposed to be the new Pele, think he had a trial at Man Utd and never heard a dicky since...

Steve Ferns
57 Posted 04/07/2020 at 15:21:30
We definitely need a new centre-back. The effectiveness of Keane as a deep centre back is masking the bigger problem.

Unless Carlo wants to play a deep line and defend all next season, we need someone who excels in a higher line. Therefore someone with pace to turn and defend the ball over the top.

They also need to have the height that Holgate lacks. I'd sell Keane whilst his stock is high as another 6-month slump is always around the corner for him.

Mike Gaynes
59 Posted 04/07/2020 at 15:56:10
Steve and Robert, thank you, very happy to have the wife back home. The reunion is not yet complete -- Mom was prevented from boarding the plane in China. We will try again to get her back in the next few weeks.

Tony #55, hope you're right.

Jamie #58, hope you're right too!

Mick #56, hope you don't mind my answering for James, but I know this story well.

At one time, Freddy Adu was considered the #2 teenage midfielder in the world behind Messi, and was a full professional at 15. At this point, he has played or trialled for probably 25 clubs, including multiple MLS teams and lower-division clubs in places like Turkey, Finland, Poland, Serbia, Greece, Portugal and Norway. He has failed everywhere and now, at 31, hasn't had a club since 2018.

The talent was exceptional -- he had some dazzling moments in brief spells with the US National Team -- but he just never matured into a real professional, physically or emotionally. He was never dedicated to his craft. Very nice guy from all reports, but it was just too much too soon.

If you're interested:

The nine stages of Freddy Adu's career: From wonderkid to wanderer

Tony Abrahams
60 Posted 04/07/2020 at 19:21:15
Steve @57, I'm not a lover of Michael Keane but, if we get pace on the flanks and more energy in midfield, then I'd see nothing wrong in sticking with these tactics. I think it's the only real way that a team can get away with playing a 4-4-2 in the modern game.
Tony Hill
61 Posted 04/07/2020 at 20:22:46
Keane is 27. He could have 8 years ahead of him as a top-level defender.

Sometimes, I think we are guilty of taking a snapshot of players as though their form at a particular moment or in a particular phase is going to be their form forever.

He's not been great on the turn – we've known that since Lukaku did him – but so, so much is in the mind and I can see him now as a man reborn.

I don't think it's all about us playing deeper. Maybe someone's told him to relax and believe in himself and he's paid attention. Perhaps that was Carlo. Anyway, it's great to see a troubled man finding his moment.

Justin Doone
62 Posted 05/07/2020 at 23:44:01
Keane's strength is winning headers. If we defend deep as a team like Burnley do he's good.

He's just too slow to play a high line. If we had a better midfield that hurried and harassed the opposition better, that would also help, but we don't.

So yes, tactics, formation and other players do make a difference, but I judge a player on what I see the player do, ie, Schniderlin did very little, so no matter if a team keeps winning and everyone appears great, he never did for me.

Age I'm not so concerned about. It's what the player offers in the current season and possibly next. Gana was top class, so athletic – if he was 25 or 35, I didn't care. I would have tried to keep him but I can fully understand him leaving.

Zouma is better than Keane. So yes I'd have him in a heart-beat to compete with Mina and Holgate.

James Flynn
63 Posted 06/07/2020 at 05:16:37
Mick (56) - First, nothing to do with you and an unusual thing to have to address, but must: While Gaynes is always, always, always speaking for Mike, he is never, never, never speaking for James.

With that, he's summarized Adu's career. A definite "Shoulda been" who turned into a "Never was". My own feeling is that before he turned 20 he'd simply stopped caring about playing. He just hung around because teams would pay him money.

He was a schoolboy sensation in Maryland, where soccer is well-established. Someway or another agents were contacted and got involved and 13-year-old Freddie was given the full, klieg light, big league hype treatment. National news, late-night talk show appearances, MTV, magazine covers, a commercial with the man himself Pele, a million dollar endorsement deal with Nike, even an interview segment with staid, old 60 Minutes. Topped off with a lucrative 4-year contract with DC United. All before he'd done a single, fucking thing. Can you imagine all this for a 14-year-old?

His output from then to now ranges from nothing all the way up to next-to-nothing. The best to say about Adu is that he's a cautionary tale. A wonderful talent, even Pele acknowledged it, who amounted to nothing because he was given everything without earning anything.

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