A few months back, it was safe to say that Oumar Niasse was not in Everton’s future plans. Koeman had isolated him not long into his tenure and it seemed like there was no way back for Niasse. That seemed to become even more clear this summer as the striker was shopped around, while the Toffees looked for a new top-tier striker to add to their squad. But, as we all know, Niasse didn’t leave and Everton didn’t get their striker. Now, with the loss of Romelu Lukaku, and no other player seeming to fit in up top, is it time for Koeman to finally give Oumar Niasse another chance? With the recent debacle at home to Tottenham, I say absolutely.
A few months back, everyone would have said absolutely not. Everyone would have been fully against bringing back someone who was so awful for the club in the few run-outs he received. But now, with the lack of any sort of striker so glaringly obvious, it seems everyone has become a lot more open-minded, even to someone like Niasse. Yes, there are options in the current squad that could be successful, but with some of the recent performances that seems hard to believe.
Sandro still needs time to adapt to the Premier League and, while he has shown some bright spots, it feels like he is better suited to play on the wing in Koeman’s system. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, on the other hand, has been fantastic—but he is still young and needs some time to develop that lone striker role.
Niasse (while maybe not with as much upside as the other two) could be a solid placeholder until both Calvert-Lewin and Sandro find their way in the Premier League. Niasse is about 3 inches taller than both of the youngsters and could provide a more target-man-like style of play for the Toffees. If he can be a strong, physical presence up front, that is certainly half the battle.
This team has the talent to move the ball and keep possession until they reach the final third—when it all falls apart. Because of the lack of a target man, crosses always seem to sail over heads and there is no one to play through up top. If Niasse can show any form of success in those areas with his bigger frame, that could prove to be a game changer for the Toffees as the season progresses.
No, Niasse is not the optimal option in that position and there hasn’t been any evidence to prove that he could be a success up top, but the players that surround him on the Toffees could help push him in the right direction. It must be stated that when Niasse was first instituted into the team, the style of play and players that surrounded him were much different. Lukaku was really the only man doing any of the work offensively with occasional help from Barkley, Baines, and Coleman. For someone who is not nearly as talented as Lukaku, that is a difficult spot to be in.
Now, Niasse has the likes of Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurðsson, Davy Klaassen and many others to help him succeed up top and to get him the ball. This suits someone like Niasse, who is not talented enough to do it all by himself, but who would flourish with some help (and being in the right spot at the right time). He could be a solid target man for the beautiful balls that will be sent in by those newly acquired midfielders.
It has been said multiple times that Everton have all the creative pieces in the midfield, but no one up top to get the ball to when they want to be creative. With his solid physique, Niasse could do just enough to help this team avoid an absolute meltdown over the first half of the season.