Niels Nkounkou & Wayne Rooney

by   |   25/09/2020  25 Comments  [Jump to last]

I thought Nkounkou's display on Wednesday was so impressive it deserved its own thread.

Two days later and I am still marvelling and really buzzing at his performance. As the season wears on there will be far bigger challenges for the 19 year old than Fleetwood, but it looks like he has got what it takes in abundance to meet them when he gets his chance.

It was like watching a four litre Mercedes going past a Renault Twingo on his sorties down the left. He just has a way of moving that oozes quality. Composed and strong too, with a turn of pace to give him that split second to send a cross in.

They were not just punted, aimless crosses. Nearly all of them had a great shape to them a bit of pace and accuracy. I am trying my damned hardest not to get too carried away with this player .

"It's too early! Can he actually defend?! There's bigger tests!" will be the cries, but sorry – and I am genuinely sorry because I know we haven't seen anywhere near enough – but it ain’t working. I can't get his performance out of my system. That's why I am writing this article, it's a cathartic exercise to expunge it, so I can sleep properly again.

I remember Wayne Rooney in the Everton youth team leading up to the FA youth cup final 18 or 19 years ago. It was clear to see that the 16 year old was special. To me Nkounkou looks a rare special player too, on that sort of level .

He has an incredible future ahead of him winning trophies and playing Champions League football with Everton FC. (not Man Utd)

Marcel Brands really has found us the elusive, hidden gem.

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Reader Comments (25)

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Jamie Crowley
1 Posted 26/09/2020 at 00:37:42
I couldn't agree more, Tony.

This kid is electric.

I've been asking, how do we get this kid into the lineup?! Dinge has done nothing to be dropped and is a fantastic left-back.

Can Nkounkou actually play centre-back? We need a left-footed centre-back, no?

I have no answers (shocker), but man this kid looks insanely talented and he has to be given a chance in the first team, in a league game, to see how he performs.

Ian Jones
2 Posted 26/09/2020 at 00:44:23
It was the backheel leading to the last goal vs Fleetwood and his reaction to doing it that did it for me... great prospect.

So... the challenge is for Jonjoe to step it up on the other side. The sight of 2 marauding full-backs would be interesting.

Phil Sammon
3 Posted 26/09/2020 at 01:11:23
I don't think we should be looking to move him to centre-back. His biggest strengths seem to be his ability to beat a man and deliver a cross.

He's quite lucky to come to us at a point in time when he should be able to get regular minutes. The congested fixture list and our centre-back woes will give him regular minutes in the coming weeks.

I'd like to see him on the bench if he's not starting. What a weapon to bring onto the left-wing. With him and Gordon, we have players who are young, hungry and hopefully able to change a game.

Derek Thomas
4 Posted 26/09/2020 at 01:43:42
Phil @ 3; spot on, should be getting as many minutes of 2nd half league action as is possible – in any midfield or further forward spot and as many Cup starts as competitions we can stay in.
Andrew Keatley
5 Posted 26/09/2020 at 02:01:30
On a similar level with the 16-year-old Wayne Rooney? I know the current feel-good factor is causing all manner of dizzying nosebleeds but the teenage Wayne Rooney was a complete phenomenon. He had something so rare that it exceeded pretty much every other young player in world football, and made him the most coveted young footballer on the planet by 2003-04. In contrast, Nkounkou has played very well against Salford and Fleetwood.

Sorry, Tony, but why the need to make such a comparison? I know we're all excited but this is just overkill.

James Flynn
6 Posted 26/09/2020 at 02:15:51
C'mon. Did you type this under the influence?

If he was Rooney-level, he would not have been available.

Neils looks good so far. Leave it at that.

Mike Gaynes
7 Posted 26/09/2020 at 03:02:40
Phil #3 and James #6, agreed, and the fact is we don't even know yet whether the kid can defend. We haven't seen him challenged by a Prem winger yet, haven't seen his marking or positional fundamentals.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves with positional changes -- or hyperbole. Not yet.

Alex Parr
8 Posted 26/09/2020 at 03:29:18
From my view, and watching him only over the 2 games against lower league opposition, he looks a good prospect no doubt. However, it's difficult on such a low sample size to make any fleeting remarks about him being a superstar, or this and that in the future.

Although, at the risk of being hypocritical and in order to join in the speculation, :P, I definitely don't see him as a centre-back. So far, what we have seen, is great attacking instincts – pace, aggression to beating his man and whipping in crosses. He's yet to really be tested yet defensively by anything approaching a quality strike force.

What also got me thinking, was the similarity in watching a young Gareth Bale, after he was moved further forwards aged about 20-21 and burst properly onto the scene. He simply motored past defenders and that's almost what I saw the other evening, he tore their right-back a new arse on many an occasion. The crossing was fast and reasonably accurate, if the strikers got used to him tearing forwards and anticipating his crosses he could definitely do well.

I feel from what I've seen, limited as it is, that his attacking ability is already on the radar but his defensive skills are yet to be truly tested.

Geoff Trenner
9 Posted 26/09/2020 at 10:48:02
Tony, I am not averse to a bit of hyperbole myself from time-to-time but .
Peter Gorman
10 Posted 26/09/2020 at 10:55:26
Nkounkou was very impressive throughout pre-season too. Most Evertonians could be forgiven for paying no attention to him at all, what with the signing of three excellent midfielders, but the kid played and played well.

So far he seems like a decent back-up to Digne and there is no doubt he'll get minutes this season.

Dave Abrahams
11 Posted 26/09/2020 at 13:38:21
Alex (8), regarding Bale, Spurs never won a game when he played full-back for them. When he was switched to a winger, what an absolute contrast to his future career.

I'd have Nkounkou on the bench today with left-wing in mind, as promising as Gordon is.

Brian Williams
12 Posted 26/09/2020 at 13:46:16
If he can't defend we've got ourselves a first class winger for £250k.
Philip Bunting
13 Posted 26/09/2020 at 21:02:42
I can mind the excitement over our last great hope Luke Garbutt at left back that he got a 5 year contract on the back of half a dozen games. Didnt exactly go well, best to keep things slow and steady with minutes this season in early cup games. But yes, a great prospect so far.
Peter Warren
14 Posted 26/09/2020 at 04:55:06
Hi Tony,

Brave to liken him to Wayne Rooney and not surprised people disagreeing. I’ve never seen anything like Rooney coming though he was a freak. However, I’ve got to say I agree with you so perhaps we’re both nuts and wrong!

I appreciate I’ve only seen him against lower class opposition but to me he just oozes class and stands out. I Whattsapp my friends immediately who support other clubs and told them what a gem of a player we had - last by time I felt like this was seeing Rooney in quarter finals of FA youth cup. Strange as it sounds (& I think he is a left sided player not central and also haven’t seen him have to defend yet) but he reminded me of Desailly in his pomp - fast, strong, skilful great on the ball and just so authoritative.

Obviously, we’re all looking forward to seeing how he does against better sides and if he can keep this level of importance up but I’m with you and I’m very very excited.

Derek Knox
15 Posted 27/09/2020 at 05:10:20
As I mentioned on another unrelated thread, we thought the bargain of £60K for Seamus Coleman would never be repeated, well folks I think not only has it been repeated it has been surpassed.

Niels Nkounkou cost the princely sum of, wait a minute he was on a Free. Well done Marcel Brands for tying this one up and under the radar of a myriad of Clubs who surely had they realised would have stumped up a similar fee for his services.

The comparisons to Rooney are not that far fetched either Tony, because surely this lad is going places, well I hope not geographically, unless he is with us. As to whether he will develop the defensive side of his game, I see no reason why not.

Clive Rogers
16 Posted 27/09/2020 at 09:41:27
He oozes class and composure and looks like he could play several positions. Left mid and left centre-back in particular. He's big enough for centre-back.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
17 Posted 27/09/2020 at 10:33:08
Personally, I think he lost his winger for the Fleetwood second goal and allowed him a free header.

BBC said Keane misjudged the flight of the ball for the Palace equaliser and that is perhaps the kindest description for Nkounkou on their second. The alternative is he switched off.

Peter Mills
18 Posted 27/09/2020 at 16:56:19
Gomes may be the player most under doubt due to this lad.
Nicholas Ryan
19 Posted 28/09/2020 at 13:40:27
To those who were unkind to Marcel Brands a few weeks ago... Niels Nkounkou and Jarred Branthwaite... combined cost: £990,000!!
Julian Wait
20 Posted 28/09/2020 at 18:28:22
Gareth Bale was the first player I thought of when watching him. Also Seamus played RM / RWB for a while when he first came in.

Hopefully, unlike Bale, Nkounkou is willing to learn some Scouse and put the footy before playing a round of golf. He's very exciting to watch and I'd like to see both him and Anthony Gordon start to feature in the Premier League squads. Especially (for Nkounkou) given the current center-back situation and Digne's ability to fill in at CB.

It also interesting to think about using a 3+2 defence with Digne as a CB Coleman and Nkounkou as wingbacks if occasion calls for it.

Brian Hennessy
21 Posted 28/09/2020 at 18:54:03
Yes but can he play in goal.
Bill Gall
22 Posted 28/09/2020 at 18:59:28
He looks very good with the ball and he seems to read the game really good, but he still has to prove the position he was brought in for, and that is as a defender.

If he turns out to be as good a defender as he is in supporting the players ahead off him, as has been said. not only do we have exceptional talent we have one of the bargains of the year.

Michael Nisbet
23 Posted 01/10/2020 at 14:04:49
He looked pretty good last night. His pace helps him to be difficult to go past. Yarmolenko didn't get much change from him on the outside. He did get away from him a few times when he came inside though. He's young and can only get better. Definitely an exciting prospect.

I was a bit confused why the commentator last night kept calling him "Nee-yong-ko"... Surely that's not how you pronounce his name??

Martin Reppion
24 Posted 01/10/2020 at 15:20:19
I also see comparisons with the emerging Gareth Bale. The balance of speed, skill and arrogance is very exciting. A more composed performance to do a job on Yarmolenko last night shows that he is ready to step in when called on.

I don't know what happened at Marseilles. It may be that he was in a similar situation to Shkodran Mustafi when he wanted more opportunities. It may be that his face just didn't fit there. Whatever it was, we are the beneficiaries. If he is managed right, and trains on, one way or the other he could prove to be one of our shrewdest signings.

Jerome Shields
25 Posted 02/10/2020 at 11:55:43
No comparison.

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