With the January 2021 transfer window winding down and Everton down to just two recognised strikers in the form of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison following Cenk Tosun’s loan move back to Besiktas, the Toffees launched an eleventh-hour bid to sign Josh King from Bournemouth.
In the end, the 29-year-old Norway international faced a straight choice between a permanent move to Fulham or a short-term,
6-month contract at Goodison Park but he settled for the opportunity to work under Carlo Ancelotti, aim for European qualification, and the chance to extend his stay at Everton if all was successful.
Were he to stay on Merseyside over the longer term, the deal struck with Bournemouth could reportedly be worth up to £5m but, in the meantime, Ancelotti secured another forward option for the second half of the 2020-21 season.
Born in Oslo to a Gambian father and Norwegian mother, King began his professional career in 2008 with Manchester United,
signing from Vålerenga as a 16-year-old prospect. A regular fixture in United’s development teams, he would make just two senior appearances for the Red Devils while undertaking loan spells at Preston, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hull City and Blackburn before making that last switch permanent in 2013.
In total, he scored five times in 63 league appearances for Rovers, enough to persuade Eddie Howe to pick him up and add him to Bournemouth’s squad for their first season in the Premier League. King would finish his debut season in the top flight as the Cherries’ top scorer with seven goals in all competitions.
In all, he made 184 appearances for Bournemouth and scored 53 goals, five of them coming against Everton alone, while he had a record of a goal every three matches for Norway at the time he signed for Everton. However, he arrived on Merseyside having failed to find the net all season in the Championship with Bournemouth in 2020-21.
His time at Everton was brief and perplexing, with Ancelotti finding no
place for him in the starting line-up, despite the absence of Calvert-Lewin due to injury, with Richarlison preferred up front when fit and King on the bench as insurance in case of other injuries. As a result, King got just 67 minutes on the field, spread over a handful of games despite the fact that the Blues were crying out for goals in what ended up being a desperately poor end-of-season run.
Though he hit the post in a tight match against West Ham, King didn't end up scoring in a Blue jersey and failed to make a single start for the club before being released at the end of the season.
“I do not regret that I went to Everton,” King later told Norwegian
news outlet Dagbladet. “I did not get the chance, not a single start. Had I got a start and
not performed, I would have understood it.
“I had another offer that gave much more security, but was told that
I would get to play and that I would get the chance at Everton. But it
was not delivered, so then I feel that was not the intention.
“Do not trust coaches who promise you things and say you will get the
chance, that you will start. I went and talked to Ancelotti, but what we
talked about in that room, stays in that room. He lied to me, but again
there are not many honest people who work in football. I had no
relationship with Ancelotti.”
Though Ancelotti wouldn't be there a few months later when King returned to Goodison Park with Watford in September 2021, the Norway international made a big statement by scoring a hat-trick for the Hornets in a 5-2 victory.
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* Everton deducted 6 points for PSR breachView full table