Everton Transfers: Scouting Toffees Target Arouna Kone
Ever since Roberto Martinez was officially appointed new manager of Everton, it seems the vast majority of his former playing staff have been linked with a move to Merseyside.
One of the Wigan men more heavily rumoured to join the Toffees is Arouna Kone, and this week the speculation intensified, with the Daily Mail and The Express among those to proclaim a £5 million deal is imminent.
As impossible as it is to gauge actual reality from transfer gossip, the fact so many media outlets are going with this story makes it a little more plausible. Therefore, if Kone is indeed on his way to the Toffees, what kind of player would the club be getting?
After leaving Africa in 2002, Kone appeared for four European clubs in five years, starting at Lierse in Belgium, travelling through the Netherlands with Roda JC Kerkrade and PSV Eindhoven, before arriving at Spanish club Sevilla in 2007.
Finally, at the start of last season, he arrived in England, as Roberto Martinez managed to lure him to the Premier League with Wigan.
In terms of goals, he's maintained a ratio of slightly better than a goal every three games throughout his career, with the one major blemish being at Sevilla, where he only managed one league goal in 40 appearances. Arguably his best stint came at Levante, where he scored 15 goals in 34 games and helped propel an unfancied side into Europe.
Away from club football, Kone—who turns 30 in November—has represented the Ivory Coast 39 times, finding the net on nine occasions.
On the field, Kone is a very direct, pacey attacker. Right-footed, but competent on his left, he is primarily a striker but is versatile enough to perform in most attacking berths.
Of his 32 Premier League starts last season, WhoScored have him playing 17 games in a central berth, 10 on the right of attack and three on the left, as well as two more a little deeper in right midfield.
On the ball he has quick feet, a number of tricks and a desire to dribble. Out wide, he has a tendency to cut in and pass or shoot instead of crossing and could sometimes be accused of keeping his head down a little too often when on the ball.
Without possession, he brings the kind of industry Everton demand of their strikers—happy putting a shift in by pressuring defenders with the ball.
Bearing in mind Kone was playing for a relegated side last season, he made some very respectable contributions. Eleven goals is a decent return given the circumstances, and one Everton's Nikica Jelavic (7) and Victor Anichebe (6) both failed to reach in the Premier League.
Impressively, Kone also averaged more shots per game than both Everton strikers, with 2.7—an average that puts him in the top 20 of the English top flight—while he also created more chances.
As mentioned, running with the ball is an obvious trait of his, and overall the Ivorian managed 45 successful dribbles, again putting his production among the 20 best in the Premier League.
Compared to the Everton duo, Kone is quite interestingly a significantly superior passer. First of all he's far more involved, averaging over 26 passes per-game compared to just 17 from Anichebe and 13 from Jelavic, while he's also considerably more accurate.
Neither Anichebe or Jelavic managed a passing average of over 69 percent, which is extremely poor, although it also reflects the Toffees' occasionally over-direct style. In contrast, Kone recorded a highly commendable 85 percent passing accuracy—unusually high for his position and in fact the third best among Premier League strikers last season.
For a player that is often on a flank, Kone's crossing is rather woeful. In fact, just three of his 23 deliveries found a man during all of last season, demonstrating exactly why he prefers to cut in.
Despite possessing reasonable strength, Kone is also not especially adept in aerial battles, winning just under a third of his aerial duels last season and averaging far less success per game than Everton's current strikers. That said, if a cross comes in and he finds enough space, he's accomplished at finding the net with his head.
Having highlighted his strong passing skills, one would assume Kone would greatly improve Everton's ability to maintain possession. However, that is far from true, as his ball retention skills are, in fact, rather shocking and seem in a different world to both Jelavic and Anichebe.
While dribbling can be a major strength, he can also be extremely over-ambitious with it. Last season, only four Premier League players turned the ball over on more occasions and just one player was dispossessed more. All together he coughed up possession 161 times, which makes the 85 of Anichebe and the 81 of Jelavic look almost irrelevant.
There's no escaping the fact Everton's major need over the summer is upfront, where Arouna Kone would almost certainly make a decent contribution. It could also be argued he would add more than either Nikica Jelavic or Victor Anichebe next season, given his recent production.
However, approaching 30, and coming at what would be a steep price for the Toffees, he doesn't represent value for money—the key being that supposed £5 million fee. Within a couple of years, as his form presumably regresses, Everton would still need a striker. His value would have all but diminished and again the club would be scraping around for funds.
Do you want Arouna Kone at Everton?
While Kone may make an impact upfront, it's unlikely he would be the difference in securing European football, which must surely be the target with the club's limited resources.
All sound business models would point the Toffees towards a younger product in this instance, with the potential to improve in ability and, crucially, in value. Kone seems too much of a temporary fix and, given his lack of sell-on value, a move would seem uncharacteristically rash from Everton.
Roberto Martinez certainly needs time to install his own methods and systems at his new club, some of which may seem quite alien to supporters familiar with the rituals of David Moyes. Evertonians will presumably trust their new manager, but this would be a slightly strange move to announce himself with.
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