Anwar El Ghazi joined Everton on loan from Aston Villa just a day after
Lucas Digne had made a permanent move to The Villains for the remainder of
the 2021-22 season. The 26-year-old Dutch winger was the Blues' third signing
of the January 2022 transfer window after Vitalii
Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson and the last under Rafael Benitez who was sacked as manager three days later.
Born in the Dutch town of Barendrecht to
Moroccan parents, El Ghazi had two senior international caps for the
Netherlands at the time he arrived at Goodison Park. Joining Ajax Amsterdam aged 18, he made his senior debut at
the start of the 2014-15 season, going on to play 70 senior matches
before signing for Lille in January 2017. He contributed with a
decent number of goals and assists but in February 2018 he suffered a
hamstring injury that sidelined him until the end of that season, where he
struggled to establish himself in head coach Christophe Galtier's
El Ghazi joined Aston Villa on loan in August 2018 and played a
key role in their promotion back to the Premier League, scoring the
opening goal in their Championship play-off final victory over Derby
County in May 2019. He then signed for Villa on a permanent basis that that summer, agreeing a
4-year contract for an undisclosed fee,
with the right-footer becoming a popular figure with Villa supporters.
After registering 4 goals and 4 assists in the 2019-20 season, El Ghazi reached double
figures for Premier League goals in 2020-21, scoring 10 times from 17
starts and 11 appearances as a substitute. That included a late winner
at Goodison Park in May 2021.
He was a regular under former Villans boss Dean Smith but has
been used increasingly as a substitute under new Villa manager Steven
“I’m really excited. Everton is a big club, I cannot wait to
get started,” El Ghazi told evertontv. “I want to show my quality to my
teammates, to the Club and, of course, the fans. I want to put a smile
on their faces.
“I’m ready and willing to work hard for it and for all of us to work
together. I’ve met a few fans already and it’s great to see how people
live for the Club. It’s basically their religion. You just want to give
it your all and show them what you can do to make them happy.
“I just want to focus on working hard, getting into the team,
fighting for my place and, with the boys, to get Everton where it
belongs - that is much higher up the table. We have a really good squad.
“I can always score a goal in an important moment. I can add a lot of
value with my pace and technique going forward. I can hold the ball and
I am decent in one-on-ones. I am ready and can’t wait.
“If I can score goals like the one I scored against Everton, for
Everton now, then I will be a happy man.”
But that was not to happen in the few outings he got under Frank
Lampard: just two brief sub appearances in his first month with the
club. Then a few games just sitting on the bench. But he was not even in the
squad for 9 of the last 12 games in the season.
nonsensical loan deal for Everton to have made, leading to suggestions
that it was forced as a condition of the deal that had taken Lucas Digne
to Aston Villa, where El-Ghazi returned after the end of the season and
his loan arrangement.
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