Niasse morass ends with striker back in the Everton fold and scoring

By Jonathan White Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/24 23:08:39

It has been quite the week for Oumar ­Niasse of Everton. The Senegal striker has gone from unwanted to undroppable in the last two games, and Toffees manager Ronald Koeman might have the man he previously painted as an outcast to thank for keeping his job.

He had a rare appearance on Wednesday night when he came on as substitute in Everton's Carabao Cup win over Sunderland. It was his first game since May last year, the first time that the striker had played competitively for the club under Koeman and only his eighth game for the side since he was signed by ­Roberto Martinez for 13.5 million pounds ($18 million) from Lokomotiv Moscow in January 2016. Niasse registered his first goal for the Blues. If that performance put him back in the manager's thoughts then Saturday should have put him front and center for the next team sheet.

Niasse was brought on as a substitute for the injured Wayne Rooney as Everton stared another defeat in the eye. Koeman's side were trailing at home to Bournemouth thanks to a Josh King strike but the man in the No.19 shirt turned the game on its head with two late goals. He drilled home the equalizer after 77 minutes and then bundled home the winner five minutes later to ease the pressure on Koeman after three league defeats in a row.

The Guardian reported the Dutchman "admitted" he brought Niasse on "chiefly to protect the injured Wayne Rooney" but conflicting quotes in ESPN suggest Koeman claimed it was a tactical move because his side "needed something different." Either way it paid off and it has certainly paid for the manager to welcome back into the fold.

Koeman allowed Niasse just one half of a preseason game last summer before deciding that the player had no future under him. First he was exiled to the under-23 side - where, as the Liverpool Echo puts it, people had nothing but nice things to say about him - before a loan move in January to Hull City. ­Niasse impressed on Humberside with five goals in 19 games but Koeman was still open to offers for his striker this summer. Instead, Niasse might be the player on which he can pin his hopes of a brighter future for the Blues.

Rooney has played 497 minutes in the Premier League for Everton and scored twice. After replacing Rooney on Saturday, Niasse has played 35 minutes in the league this season and also scored two goals. The prodigal son's goals come at a goal every 248 minutes while the forgotten man has bagged once every 18 minutes and scored with his only two shots.

Yes, it is only one game but, at 27, ­Niasse is younger than 31-year-old Rooney and more experienced than both the 20-year-old Dominic Calvert-Lewin and 21-year-old Sandro. Koeman was criticized for not buying a striker to replace the departed Romelu Lukaku, a man who scored 25 Premier League goals for the side last season, despite spending over 140 million pounds this summer.

The answer might have been under his nose the whole time and Bluenoses will hope that now Niasse has been brought in from the cold, he can keep up his hot streak.

The author is a Shanghai-based freelance writer.


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