10/04/2024 10comments  |  Jump to last

Niels Nkounkou has revealed that he was surprised when Saint-Étienne took up an option to sign him last summer as he believed he would be heading back to Everton.

The young Frenchman, a cut-price acquisition in 2020 following his release by Marseille, made seven appearances for the Toffees, including a couple of hugely impressive displays in the Carabao Cup under Carlo Ancelotti, before being sent out on loan to Standard Liege and Cardiff City.

With his contract set to expire in 2023, he signed a new deal at Goodison Park before joining Saint'é on loan for the second half of the 2022-23 campaign.

That deal included an option for the Ligue 2 club to make the deal permanent but Nkounkou didn't expect them to be able to exercise it despite how well he was performing for Les Verts. 

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“As I explained, when I arrived at Saint'é, it was a loan with an option to buy,” he said in an interview with Peuple Vert (via Sport Witness), "but the option clause inserted by Everton was so high that Saint'é couldn’t afford it given that they didn’t know if they were going to keep afloat themselves. They had money problems.

“They said to me: ‘You know what? The option is there, we have to accept it, but under no circumstances are we going to mention it or exercise it.’

“Then the director comes to see me: ‘Niels, at the end of the season, we’re exercising the option.’ 

“They tell me: ‘Given how you’re playing,  if we don’t take up the purchase option, we’re going to look like crazy people!  Because we’re going to let go a player like that.’

“I think Everton had set the purchase option at €2.5 million. At that time, I wanted to return to Everton.  Before signing the loan at Saint'é, I extended [my contract] with Everton.”

Ultimately, the deal worked out well for Saint-Étienne who immediately sold him on to Eintracht Frankfurt for €7.5m. 


Reader Comments (10)

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Geoff Trenner
1 Posted 10/04/2024 at 09:16:42
Does anyone know how he is doing at Eintracht Frankfurt?
I always felt that he was better going forward than at defending.
Mike Hayes
2 Posted 10/04/2024 at 11:50:01
Given the way things are happening at the club, it's probably best he went out on loan, then sold.

I doubt he'd get a look in with Dyche picking almost the same team and formation.

Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 10/04/2024 at 15:27:02
Geoff #1, life in the Bundesliga has been great to the kid. He starts about half of Frankfurt's games, almost all of them at left mid or left wing, and has three goals and three assists in the league.

His highlight was coming off the bench in the final minutes and creating two perfect injury-time assists in a dramatic 2-1 win over Monchengladbach. He got to the endline and crossed for both goals.

Duncan McDine
4 Posted 10/04/2024 at 20:52:01
You can never really tell if someone is going to have a big career at the top of the game, but I'll admit that I was very impressed with this lad when we first saw him attacking opposition right-backs with ease.

He never got a proper chance to shine – it didn't help that we've been through so many different managers. And most (perhaps all) of those managers have been of the "safety first" mindset... so an attacking left-back was always likely to warm the bench. I suppose Digne kept him out of the side too.

It'd be nice to think that he ends up having a decent career, albeit elsewhere. Best of luck.

Si Cooper
5 Posted 11/04/2024 at 00:11:42
The obviously embarrassing thing is that we apparently thought he was only worth up to 2.5 million, and yet he was sold straightaway for 7.5!
Mike Gaynes
6 Posted 11/04/2024 at 01:47:34
Much of which went to us, Si.
Alan J Thompson
7 Posted 11/04/2024 at 05:37:04
It was probably seen by those who see them in training that he wasn't good enough in the same way they knew that bloke Haaland would come to nothing and that Simms and Cannon were not in the Beto or Chermiti class. We won't go on to Dier or Mustafi(?) and the bright lights of London.
Phil Smith
8 Posted 11/04/2024 at 17:43:41
No youngster has had a proper run in the side in order to shine! The last one was Tom Davis and he was given plenty of chances. That was 6 years ago.

The real talented youngsters at the club have all left in recent years because the club has been so badly run, with managers not lasting more than a couple of seasons.

They also know they've no chance of getting a run out over the last few years, which is exactly the kind of thing we used to do under Moyes and Martinez.

Talent wanted to come here as they thought they could actually break into the side as they'd be given chances like Benni, Tom and Dom.

It's totally depressing to see no risks taken on any of our players from the youth system and this is a major contributing factor as to why we're in the financial problems we find ourselves in.

Look at Nkounkou. We sold him for £2.5M and St Etienne immediately sell him for €7.5M. How daft is that??? Frankfurt knew they were getting a player.

There are so many things wrong at our once great club, it's bewildering...

James Flynn
9 Posted 11/04/2024 at 18:13:59
He was so poor a full-back you might think he was doing it on purpose.

Fun watching him go forward, though. What a left foot; powerful and accurate.

Peter Gorman
10 Posted 15/04/2024 at 11:04:08
For the love of God and hopefully the last time — Everton never owned Eric Dier and Sporting wouldn't sell him to us.

Choose a better example of whatever point you are trying to make.

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