Zinchenko could be perfect replacement for Delph at Everton

CARDIFF, WALES - JUNE 05: Oleksandr Zinchenko of Ukraine in action during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier between Wales and Ukraine at Cardiff City Stadium on June 05, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES - JUNE 05: Oleksandr Zinchenko of Ukraine in action during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier between Wales and Ukraine at Cardiff City Stadium on June 05, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images) /

Everton have announced a number of player departures from the club as those individual contracts end and the summer transfer window opens.

None of those leaving are a surprise, although Jonjo Kenny was actually offered a new deal by Everton but has decided to move on to pastures new.

One of those players who has left is Fabian Delph. The former Manchester City star has departed the Toffees’ after an injury-hit and very disappointing three-year spell at Goodison Park.

When the former England international signed in 2019 for what was a snip of a fee at around £10 million it seemed like he would make a decent addition to the squad.

Delph offered genuine quality, versatility, with his ability to play both in midfield and at left-back, and a wealth of top club and international experience.

He was perhaps seen as a potential replacement for the departing Idrissa Gueye who had left for PSG that same summer of 2019 although the Blues’ had also brought in Jean-Phlippe Gbamin to bolster their midfield options.

Given his background and experience at the top tier in football, it was hoped the ex-City player could provide some much-needed additional nous to a new-look midfield, especially as he had just won two consecutive Premier League titles with City.

Well, all those high hopes and expectations proved to be ill-founded of course. Neither Delph or Gbamin played much football for the remainder of their Everton careers as injury dogged both of them throughout.

Delph was occasionally available, when he temporarily recovered from one injury setback or another, and while he produced some solid performances at times, he also made some ill-advised comments, which further alienated Evertonians.

Gbmain as we all know basically didn’t pull on a royal blue shirt for eighteen months after getting hurt a few weeks into his time on Merseyside, and has been on loan in Russia for the last six months with his future still not clear.

Ever since that time when Gueye departed for Paris the Toffees’ have far too often lacked enough pace, power and defensive strength in the middle of the park.

Carlo Ancelotti tried to address this with the signings of Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure (who previous boss Marco Silva had also wanted in the summer of 2019) and it did help. But again, they have also suffered from injury problems and inconsistent form, particularly of late.

Delph did make one of his returns from the treatment table at the back end of this last season and his ability to shield the defence, break up attacks and use the ball intelligently and incisively proved a very useful addition to a team badly in need of those qualities.

I’ve said for a while that one of the options Frank Lampard has in terms of how he sets his team up going forward, is to consider a version of 4-3-3 with a deeper-lying defensive midfielder.

That would giving additional protection to the back four and allowing the other two midfielders to get forward more and support the attack. It’s actually a version of how City have played for a number of seasons now with Fernandinho doing that job to perfection.

Delph could also do that sort of role and so too can another player, Oleksandr Zinchenko, currently plying his trade at City, once again the Premier League champions.

Everton have been strongly linked with a move for the Ukrainian international and it’s rumoured Zinchenko is open to leaving the Etihad in search of more regular football.

There are some interesting similarities between him and the 32-year-old Delph. Both obviously playing for City and both also preferring to operate in midfield but able to slot in at left-back too. They are also very strong defensive players, but with good ability on the ball as well.

Zinchenko apparently wants a guarantee that whatever club he joins – if he does leave the champions – would ensure he is able to play regularly in central midfield rather than be used as a utility man as he has often been at City.

I certainly think Everton could do that as he would slot perfectly into Delph’s role in that number six-type position.

As they try to improve under Lampard, one thing the Toffees’ need to do more of is keep the ball at times and be better able to control the pace and tempo of matches, particularly when away from home. A player like Zinchenko would seem ideal for that as well as providing the added protection for what will probably be a new-look defence.

Of course he would also offer emergency cover for his international team-mate Vitalii Mykolenko at left-back, if need be.

Perhaps that Ukraine connection might help the Blues’ persude him to come to Goodison Park, although the likely fee would probably be a significant stumbling block.

Anyway, all this is highly speculative on my part and we have to wait and see whether Everton’s alledged interest is solidly founded or not.