Journalist Robin Bairner has provided an update on Everton’s Niels Nkounkou, who is currently on loan at Saint-Etienne.
What did Bairner say about Nkounkou?
As per his latest tweet, the journalist branded the left-back’s loan at the Ligue 2 club as “incredible” as footage of him in action emerged on Twitter.
Everton's Niels Nkounkou is having an *incredible* loan spell at Saint-Etienne.
? 12 Apps
? 4 goals
? 7 assists
Reminder: he's a left-back.
He did this yesterday.pic.twitter.com/RS4b94BNFY
— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) April 9, 2023
He then went on to mention the 22-year-old’s statistics, where he has 4 goals and seven assists in 12 appearances for the Greens.
Bairner also reminded his followers that Nkounkou is a left-back despite his impressive attacking returns, before including a video of the loanee scoring from distance.
How has Nkounkou performed for Saint-Etienne and how would he fit Everton?
The €3m-rated (£2.5m) defender has become a key part of Laurent Batlles’ side since he made the switch to France in January 2023.
His performances have helped the Ligue 2 side to be unbeaten in their last nine matches, where they have risen to 11th in the table.
As per FBref, the fullback, who signed for Everton on a free transfer, is ranked within the top 4% for progressive carries amongst those in his position across Europe, whilst also being ranked in the top 4% for successful take-ons per 90 – these attacking underlying statistics, when looked upon, explain the nature of Nkounkou as a player and why he has such high attacking returns for Saint-Etienne.
The former Cardiff City defender is less likely to make an impact in Everton’s starting XI now that Sean Dyche is in charge at Goodison Park. With the former Burnley manager being known for his compact football, an attacking, aggressive fullback is unlikely to be on his agenda.
Still, as Vitaliy Mykolenko has lost his place in the Everton lineup, there may be an opportunity for Nkounkou. As of now, Ben Godfrey has been operating on the left side of the defence but he is a natural centre-back, which potentially could leave space for Nkounkou.
The 22-year-old’s contract expires in the summer of 2024 and it feels unlikely to be extended.
As per Score.fr, there is a purchase option in the player’s loan which may see him stay in France for longer than his current loan.
Nkounkou has become an important part of the Saint-Etienne side that has climbed the table since his arrival and would be suitable for both sides if he extended his contract with the Greens further.
Dyche’s hunt for a solid defence should see him consider the France U21 international due to his remarkable performances this season, but it feels as if there is little opportunity left for him at the Merseyside club.