It was a tough old season at Goodison Park. But did any of Everton’s players enjoy success in 2021/22?
I’ve been following the Blues’ eight out-on-loan players this season to keep track of how they’ve doing. There’s been some very interesting progress made and there could well be a first-team opportunity at Everton awaiting three or four of these players.
So let’s get into it…
Niels Nkounkou – Standard Liege
Although Vitalii Mykolenko may have won the hearts of Evertonians in recent months with some improving performances, left-back remains a problem position for the Blues.
The Ukrainian is a very good defender, but he does not offer much going forward – the occasional spectacular volley aside. Nkounkou – 21 – is at the other end of the scale. He’s a real threat going forward, but there are big questions looming over him defensively.
But after a first season out-on-loan to Belgian Standard Liege, is the Frenchman ready to come into the first-team squad at Goodison Park and provide competition to Mykolenko? In truth, his loan spell wasn’t exactly spectacular.
Nkounkou started 24 out of a possible 34 league games for Liege – who finished a lowly 14th in the 18 team Belgian League – plus a couple of cup appearances. Unfortunately, he failed to register a single goal or assist over the course of the season.
In normal circumstances, another loan spell (ideally in the Championship) would be best for Nkounkou, but with financial resources extremely tight at Goodison this summer, he could well find himself back in the first-team picture next season. This summer will be a big opportunity for him to make a positive impression with Frank Lampard.
Appearances: 26(5), Goals: 0, Assists: 0
For all intents and purposes, Kean is no longer an Everton player. He’s just completed the first season of a two-year loan at Juve, which ends with an obligation to buy the player. However, after a sub-par season in Turin, there are rumours that Juventus are trying to find a way out of this deal either by not taking the forward or else by flipping him to another side with PSG rumoured to be interested. Only time will tell whether they find a way to do this.
The 22-year-old scored six goals for Juve across 42 appearances – although just 11 of those were starts. He therefore averaged a goal every 229 minutes (or a goal every 2.5 games). Not good, not bad.
Appearances: 11(31), Goals: 6, Assists: 3
Jean-Philippe Gbamin – CSKA Moscow
The elusive Gbamin departed the Blues for Russia at the start of February – just days before the invasion of Ukraine. Despite the less-than-ideal circumstances, Gbamin did fare pretty well in Moscow, starting all of the games he was available for (aside from a one-game suspension after picking up five yellow cards), while scoring twice and bagging a couple of assists as CSKA Moscow finished the season in fifth place.
Dogged by persistent rumours that he seemed to enjoy the Moscow nightlife a lot more than was expected from a professional footballer, he seemed to fade away from importance to CSKA towards the end of the season.
While the loan can be deemed somewhat successful, CSKA haven’t exercised their option to buy him. So back to Everton he’ll come in the summer and it would be a surprise if he wasn’t to leave against next season – whether that be temporarily or permanently.
Appearances: 13(0), Goals: 2, Assists: 2
Joao Virginia – Sporting Lisbon
Another player whose temporary club had an “option to buy” which hasn’t been exercised, although Sporting would apparently like Virginia back on another loan deal after playing back-up to Adrian Adan last season.
Virginia didn’t make a league appearance until the last game of the season, but did get seven cup outings – including a 4-2 defeat to Ajax in the Champions League.
The 22-year-old still has two years left on his Everton contract, but it’s hard to envisage a future for him at the club.
Appearances: 7(0), Conceded: 7, Clean Sheets: 4
Nathan Broadhead – Sunderland
A few eyebrows were raised when Broadhead was awarded a contract extension last summer. Not because he isn’t talented (he is), but because he was 23 years old and yet to get anything close to serious game time for the first team.
It was a very mixed season for Broadhead at Sunderland. On the one hand, he was arguably the best player in the division when he played. The trouble was, it was another injury-plagued season for the forward.
Broadhead scored 13 goals in 27 appearances for the Black Cats and was instrumental in securing a play-off spot for the club – although he barely featured in the play-offs after picking up another hamstring injury in the last game of the season.
He won’t be short of suitors this summer – but his inability to stay fit for long periods may restrict those opportunities. He may also get a chance to impress Lampard in pre-season and I wouldn’t be completely surprising if he was to play a back-up role to the first team next season considering our tight pursestrings and a lack of forward options.
Has one year left on his contract, but his future really depends on whether anyone will stump up a couple of million quid for him given his injury record.
If he’s not with the first team, he’ll be tearing up the Championship next season… if he can stay fit. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see Sunderland come back in for him.
Appearances: 19(8), Goals: 13, Assists: 0
Lewis Gibson – Sheffield Wednesday
It was also an injury-plagued season for Lewis Gibson at League One Sheffield Wednesday. The 21-year-old made just six appearances for the Owls in all competitions.
Gibson is out of contract this summer, but he has been offered a new deal by Everton. There’s no confirmation about whether he’s set to sign though given there appears to be no route into the first team for him.
Appearances: 4(2), Goals: 0, Assists: 1
Ellis Simms – Hearts
After a successful loan spell at League One’s Blackpool last season, Simms enjoyed a similarly fruitful time at Hearts after making the move to Scotland in January. The big striker became a key part of the Hearts team that finished third in the league and reach the final of the Scottish Cup – with Simms bagging key goals in the quarters and semis.
All in all, Simms scored seven goals in 21 appearances, of which 15 where starts. There is a chance he may provide back-up for Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Goodison Park next season, but in all honesty he looks like he needs seasoning in a more competitive league like the Championship.
Appearances: 15(6), Goals: 7, Assists: 1
Lewis Warrington – Tranmere Rovers
19-year-old midfielder Lewis Warrington earned the plaudits at Prenton Park during his first experience of senior football, earning himself a two-year contract extension at Everton in the process.
Warrington quickly established himself as a key player at the League Two side, starting the final 17 games of the season after a January move and completing 14 of those games. He bagged himself a goal and two assists as Rovers narrowly missed out on the play-offs.
Expect to see him on loan at a League One club next season as he continues his development.
Appearances: 17(0), Goals: 1, Assists: 2