Bolasie is improving at Everton but is it enough?

Gary McCarty 10/11/2016  21 Comments  [Jump to last]
Ronald Koeman

Can Koeman get the best out of Yannick Bolasie? (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald

When Everton spent a whopping £25million to bring Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie to Goodison Park, many Toffees fans were up in arms about their club frittering away such large sums of cash on a volatile and unpredictable player. This was a significant chunk of the John Stones money for a man who only managed to muster 5 goals and 3 assists in the previous campaign. The DR Congo player had showed flashes of brilliance (see video below) while at Selhurst Park, but he needs to raise his game a fair few notches to justify the enormous price-tag. After eleven appearances for the Merseyside club, there have been some slight improvements. The question is, is it enough?

Ronald Koeman has proven his worth in the Premier League, and Everton fans should respect his decisions. But it must have hurt to see the Dutchman’s old Southampton charge, Sadio Mane, move to the wrong side of Liverpool in a transfer that only cost £5million more than the Bolasie move. The 24-year-old has scored 6 goals and created 2 this season at Anfield, with a 67% shot accuracy. It was Koeman that signed the Senegalese forward and moulded him into the devastating attacker he is today. So why didn’t he attempt to bring Mane with him to Everton?

Hopefully the answer to that is that Koeman believes Bolasie to have the potential to be a stronger force than Mane, and a player who will link up with Romelu Lukaku more effectively. Certainly, the early signs suggest that Bolasie could become a key player in this Everton side, and the partnership with Everton’s sharpshooting striker is beginning to blossom.

Comparing Bolasie’s average stats courtesy of Fantasy Football Scout this season with last, the player has made vast improvements in his involvement and distribution going forward. The 27-year-old is averaging 26.6 touches in the final third, up from 25.7 last season, the amount of passes he receives in the opponents half is up to 21 from 19.3, and he is completing 53.4% of dribbles, up from 47.5% last term. The biggest enhancement in Bolasie’s game from last time out is his goal involvement of 41.7%, from 26.7% in the previous campaign.

While Lukaku continues to be Everton’s main threat in front of goal, Bolasie has the potential to become an assist master. His distribution is clearly on the up for the Blues. Last season Bolasie had a pass success rate of 72.8% in the final third and 18.1% of his crosses met their intended target. This time he has a pass completion rate of 80.2% and his crosses are at 22.7%. This season the former Palace man is creating a chance every 52.3 minutes, whereas last season he set up a goal scoring opportunity every 95.2 minutes. He has also added through balls to his game, with 3 so far and none in the entirety of his previous campaign.

The evidence of Bolasie’s stock rising is there to see, but there are also a number of other factors to take into consideration. He is now playing in a top six challenging side, rather than a team that frequently languishes in the wrong half of the table. The winger also has the opportunity to tee up a highly prolific striker now, whereas at Palace he didn’t have a traditional centre-forward to get on the end of his crosses and passes. Everton are at home to Swansea this weekend, which would be the ideal opportunity for this partnership to thrive. It will be interesting to see if some of the football tipsters go with Lukaku to score a couple this weekend, given he’s already scored a hat-trick against Middlesbrough at home this season.

Although there are other players that could push Bolasie out of the starting XI, namely Aaron Lennon and Gerard Deulofeu, due to the fact that the club forked out so much money for the player it is likely that Koeman will continue to favour him in the right-wing role. But the manager wants his new signing to add more goals to his game.  A secure place in the side should give Bolasie enough time to grow, and hopefully fulfil the potential that his past glimmers of brilliance have suggested he possesses.

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