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Yannick Bolasie 7

Though Evertonians had to wait for the player-acquisition phase of Ronald Koeman's introduction to Everton to really get going, they were finally rewarded for what patience they had left in August when the first of the new signings selected by the Dutchman and new Director of Football Steve Walsh began to arrive.

Following Idrissa Gueye and Ashley Williams through the door two days after the season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur was Yannick Bolasie in a deal with Crystal Palace that was officially undisclosed but various reports suggested that once appearance-related clauses are taken into account, it could eventually equal Everton's most expensive ever signing, matching the £28M paid to Chelsea for Romelu Lukaku.

The 27-year-old's move from Selhurst Park brought to an end a four-year spell with Palace, during which time he had emerged as one of the most feared wingers in the Premier League on his day, albeit one noted for his inconsistency and comparative lack of goals.

Though born in Lyon, France, Bolasie's career prior to Everton had, with the exception of a year in Malta with Floriana, been spent in England after he joined Rushden & Diamonds' youth setup at the age of 16.

He returned from his Maltese adventure when he was offered a trial by Plymouth Argyle where he spent three seasons before joining Barnet on loan for the 2009-10 season. He returned to Plymouth after scoring five goals in 42 games for the London side before Bristol City snapped him up on a two-year deal in 2011.

While he would be named that club's Young Player of the Year, Bolasie handed in a transfer request at the end of his first season because he wanted to return to London and he got his wish when Palace picked him up for an undisclosed fee.

His performances there were enough to earn him an international call-up to the Congolese national side, although he initially turned down the chance to represent them in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations because he wanted to concentrate on his club form.

Despite his tendency towards erraticism, he also came to be regarded as one of the Premier League's most technically gifted players, attributes that when combined with his pace and power make him a feared opponent.

A reported target of Tottenham Hotspur the year before, it seemed unlikely that Bolasie would move outside of the southeast given his love for London but a fresh opportunity at Everton beckoned where Koeman would look to harness his abilities so that he could deliver on a consistent basis in his new team. However, the large fee paid continued to be a source of puzzlement, with a CEIS study suggesting that  Everton overpaid Crystal Palace for Yannick Bolasie by around £19M.

He started well with a nice cross that Lukaku buried in their first game together, and that would be the beginning of a burgeoning relationship the Big Man benefitted plenty from –– even though Bolasie did steal the ball off his toe to hammer home a fine goal at Burnley.

Some mixed play followed, with Boalsie's form firstly suffering together with the rest of the team as the 2016-17 season developed... before disaster struck for the Congolese star when he fell awkwardly under a challenge in the Man Utd game and ruptured a knee ligament that would bring his embryonic season to a catastrophic end after only 13 Premier League games.

It would be over a year before he was deemed to be fit enough to return, on Boxing Day 2017 against West Brom. But as he played in more games, it soon became clear that he needed a lot more game-time to develop anything approaching sufficient match-day sharpness, if he ever would. The truth of the situation only came out nearly a year later when the player admitted that he returned to playing in Sam Allardyce's team far too early and with inadequate preparation.

But the kind of knee injury he suffered had impacted his primary assets of pace, acceleration and agility. At 29, despite plenty of energy, it became all too clear that his best days in a Blue shirt (precious few to speak of) were behind him.

That was confirmed under new manager, Marco Silva, with Bolasie out injured for the whole of pre-season, and persuaded to look elsewhere, initially wanted at Middlesborough but he elected to join Aston Villa on a season-long loan. But, by mid-November, Bolasie had still not made his first start for the Villans since sealing a season-long loan move, although he had managed two goals and an assist from his 10 substitute appearances.

“Looking back, I came back too early. I rushed back because I wanted to play a lot more minutes. I played more minutes at Everton when I came back than I have at Villa so far. But now I’ve done it the right way and I’m starting to see the rewards. I’m confident in my body now and able to deal with the training sessions.”

The winger believes playing less time overall at Villa Park is helping him build his confidence back in his body, after admitting he was nowhere near the required level at the start of the season.

“I’ve been building up from the start – since I came to Villa. I didn’t have a pre-season. I didn’t do anything.  I had to build myself up and that always meant it would be a slow start.  There was a time where I wasn’t even running. But I’m getting there slowly and I’m just happy about that.  I think I’m close now but, when I first came, I was nowhere near the level that I should be at.”

Although Bolasie was a part of almost every Villa first-team squad through the first half of the 2018-19 season, he abruptly returned to Everton in mid-January, having activated a clause in his loan agreement that allowed him to do so... presumably with Aston Villa's agreement. Only 2 goals and 5 assists in 21 appearances were perhaps less than Villa were looking for in return for paying his £70k salary each week.

But Marco Silva seemed lukewarm at best with his return, and downplayed the prospects of him being considered for the Everton first team, suggesting that another loan deal would be the best option for him.

 

FactFile

Squad number 7
Position Winger/Forward
Nationality DR Congo
Born Lyon, France
Date of birth 24 May 1989
Height 6'-1"
Joined 15 August 2016
Joined from Crystal Palace
Signed under Ronald Koeman
Transfer fee £22.5m*
Contract duration 5 years
Contract expires June 2021
Full debut v Sunderland (A)
12 September 2016
Previous Clubs Rushden & Diamonds
Floriana
Plymouth Argyle
Barnet (loan)
Bristol City
Crystal Palace
» Soccerbase Datafile
» Wikipedia Entry
» Transfermarkt

Everton Career

Season Squad No League Apps (sub) League Goals Cup Apps (sub) Cup Goals Total Apps (sub) Total Goals
2016-17 14 12 (1) 1 1 (1) 0 13 (2) 1
2017-18 7 11 (5) 1 1 (0) 0 12 (5) 1
2018-19 7* 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0
  Totals 23 (6) 2 2 (1) 0 25 (7) 2
* On season-long loan at Aston Villa, cut short in January 2019

Loan Spells

Season Team League Apps Cup Apps League Goals Cup Goals
2018-19 Aston Villa 9 (12) 0 (0) 2 0

  

Previous Career

Season Team Appearances (sub) Goals
2012-2016 Crystal Palace 133 12
2011-2012 Bristol City 23 1
2009-2010 Barnet (loan) 42 5
2008-2011 Plymouth Argyle 51 8
2007-2008 Floriana 24 4
2006-2007 Hillingdon Borough 5 0



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