Everton are nearing a huge loan deal both in literal and figurative terms, as 6'8" striker Lacina Traore has been granted a work permit, which could lead to a short-term deal from AS Monaco, according to the Toffees' official website.
On Friday, Sky Sports reports a deal is done:
Everton sign Lacina Traoré from Monaco #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) January 24, 2014
The 23-year-old Ivory Coast native has been making waves over the past few years due to his size, but he has been extremely productive on the pitch as well. Traore enjoyed a breakout campaign for Kuban Krasnodar of the Russian Premier League in 2011-12 with 18 goals, and he followed that up with another 18-goal effort for Anzhi Makhachkala last season.
After playing in seven 2013-14 matches for Makhachkala, the Russian club sold him to AS Monaco of the French Ligue 1.
Rather than having Traore take a back seat to Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Valere Germain and others, Monaco made the decision to loan him out so that he can receive some consistent playing time at a high level.
It initially looked as though West Ham were in position to secure Traore, per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.
Despite the fact that Traore to West Ham seemed like a sure thing, BBC's Phil McNulty reported on Jan. 19 that Traore underwent a medical examination for Everton:
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce's fears confirmed as Monaco striker Lacina Traore prepares to undergo a medical at Everton.— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) January 19, 2014
Which club is a better fit for Traore?
Traore was even granted a work permit to make the move to West Ham, according to Dominic Fifield of The Guardian, so everything was in place. Traore ultimately shifted his focus elsewhere, but it's important to remember that getting a work permit for Everton doesn't guarantee that the move will happen, as evidenced by the breakdown in talks with West Ham.
After news surfaced that the Toffees were gaining ground in terms of securing a loan for Traore, however, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce essentially chalked the situation up to bad luck, according to Jack Wilson of the Daily Star:
All I'm saying is that we could have (done) no more than we did by trying to secure a player of this size, quality and talent. In the end we had a long process of going as far as the work permit. It wasn't Monaco and it wasn't us, it was all down to the player's agent. That is who he listened to. That is what happens in today's modern-day game.
The struggling Hammers certainly could have used Traore as he would have joined Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll to form what would have been a dangerous attacking trio.
Whatever the case, Traore's potential EPL arrival is of particular interest due to the fact that he will be the tallest player in EPL history should he officially sign a loan deal, according to Sportingintelligence on Twitter:
West Ham's loanee-in-waiting Lacina Traore will become the Premier League's joint-tallest ever player at 6ft 8in. pic.twitter.com/mPaxSk5IJB— sportingintelligence (@sportingintel) January 3, 2014
Traore would actually be tied with Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon for that honor, and while it may not seem that notable on the surface, Traore's size should help in terms of outmuscling defenders and winning headers off set pieces.
There is no doubt that Traore would add another dimension to Everton as they vie for a spot in the Champions League, and it should be a great partnership for all involved as Traore attempts to prepare himself for a move back to Monaco in 2014-15.
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