Could Nkounkou replace Richarlison for Everton

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Niels Nkounkou of Everton during the Carabao Cup fourth round match between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on September 30, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Football Stadiums around United Kingdom remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Niels Nkounkou of Everton during the Carabao Cup fourth round match between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on September 30, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Football Stadiums around United Kingdom remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images) /
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Everton have a major decision to make before their next Premier League match at St James’ Park when they take on Newcastle United on Sunday.

That’s the question of who should replace suspended Richarlison in the Everton team to face the Magpies this weekend.

Last Sunday, Alex Iwobi got another chance to show whether he has what it takes to replace the Brazilian star, at least for the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, Iwobi fluffed that chance again and produced a pretty limp display after a reasonably bright start. He couldn’t provide that outlet on the left and deliver the kind of dynamic and creative performance that was necessary as well as offering a goal threat.

Iwobi has had a lot of opportunities in an Everton shirt and Sunday was yet another one. He has basically consistently flattered to deceive. It’s very frustrating as I keep on trying to defend him but then he let’s the Blues down on the pitch!

Well I’d be a bit surprised if he started again this weekend. The Toffees really need to get back to winning ways against Newcastle after a controversial draw with Liverpool that was followed up by that deflating loss to Southampton.

So if Iwobi isn’t the answer then who should or could take his place? There are two obvious others in the first-team squad and one who would represent a real left-field type of choice.

The two who are most likely to be considered are Anthony Gordon and Bernard. We’ve recently looked at the merits of those players, especially the claims of Gordon to a regular starting place.

They have their strengths. Gordon offers youthful energy, good attacking instincts and certainly seems to have a bright future. Bernard would give more of the defensive work rate that his fellow Brazilian contributes and individual technique and skill, but I feel on balance he’s better suited to a role centrally or in midfield.

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One other far less likely option might be to try Niels Nkounkou in an attacking role on the left hand side of the team’s attack.

In previous articles I’ve talked about how Nkounkou would be likely to play in place of Lucas Digne at left-back with Fabian Delph slotting into midfield, if the Toffees line up as I expected.

But if Carlo Ancelotti  really wanted to spring a surprise and do something radically different he might put Delph in at left-back. And then he could play Nkounkou in Richarlison’s place and look to use the youngsters pace, energy and creative ability in evidence in the Carabao Cup to provide a really potent and exuberant outlet.

Although he is nominally a left-back, I think his talents could lend him to operating in a wide attacking role and successfully.

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It would certainly be a big gamble and although Ancelotti has sprung a few unexpected team selections in his time, I think he is unlikely to to go for this one.