Sean Dyche’s imminent arrival may have breathed new life into Everton’s season, but they look set to lose the one man whose boundless energy has kept their head above water and given Dyche a fighting chance of staving off relegation. Amadou Onana has been touted with a move away from Merseyside in January, despite only arriving from Lille in the summer.
London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea have been credited with an interest in the 21-year-old, as they look to take advantage of the precarious financial position that Everton find themselves in, although Anthony Gordon’s move to Newcastle may change their stance on Onana. But irrespective of whether he leaves this month or not, interest in the Belgian youngster is unlikely to disappear.
Onana is a rangy midfielder who uses his frame to sweep the ball away from opponents just when they think they’ve broken free. Much like how a chameleon will snap out its tongue to catch unsuspecting prey, the element of surprise is everything. Onana, however, can’t blend into his surroundings quite as naturally. At 6’4, he’s an imposing presence, and his power and athleticism allow him to cover almost every blade of grass.
His height gives him an obvious advantage in aerial duels – winning an average of 1.93 aerial duels per 90, whilst his headed goal against Southampton showcased his ability to make use of his towering physique in both boxes. There’s still a lack of finesse to his game in possession. Onana is neither a progressive nor high-volume passer, and his use to a possession-orientated side would have to be evaluated. Ultimately, though, this is just his second season of top-flight football. There’s plenty of time to refine these issues.
Onana isn’t content, either, with just relying on his qualities off the ball. His willingness to get forward and record touches in the attacking penalty area means if he can improve the range and accuracy of his passing, he will see a surge in his attacking output.
In just 18 appearances, Onana has added an energy and application that Everton have lacked for many years. A combustible young midfielder, there’s no doubt that rumours of his exit will persist. But if the club can get him to stay beyond the January window, they will give themselves more than a chance of avoiding relegation to the second tier.
By: Sam Tabuteau / @TabuteauS
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Virginie Lefour – AFP