That Everton inexplicably ended the summer 2017 transfer window having signed only untried striker Sandro
Ramirez would soon be revealed as the grave error everyone saw it to be when
the deadline passed on 31 August.
The failure to adequately replace the departed Romelu Lukaku had a devastating effect on the Blues' season and it
ultimately proved to be a significant contributing factor to Ronald Koeman losing his job before the end of October that year.
Ramirez struggled to adapt from La Liga to the pace of the Premier League while Oumar Niasse came in from the cold but couldn't provide the answer to Everton's lack of an experienced focal point up front either, so it was left to the raw 20-year-old Dominic Calvert-Lewin to gamely fill the void.
Together with interim manager Sam Allardyce, Director of Football Steve Walsh used the last few weeks of 2017 to draw up a shortlist of viable striking targets, one that was headed by Turkish international striker, Cenk Tosun,
who was signed on 5 January, 2018 in a £21m deal with Besiktas, with a further £1m dependent on clauses.
The 26-year-old put pen to paper on a 4½-year contract but the protracted negotiations over the fee with the Turks and then the player's personal terms meant that he was not registered in time to face Liverpool in an FA Cup tie in early January 2018. Instead, his signing was announced, unorthodoxically, at half-time of the
match at Anfield.
Born in Germany but of Turkish descent, Tosun elected to play for Turkey and ended up making his name in that country's Super Lig, having started his professional career at Eintracht Frankfurt.
He joined Gaziantepspor in 2011 and spent three seasons there racking up 39 goals in 109 league appearances before being picked up by Istanbul giants, Besiktas. His game came on leaps and bounds with the Black Eagles where he notched 41 times in 96 league games while also lighting up the Champions League this season with a rocket of a goal that was named goal of the group stages.
He made his debut for Everton at Wembley against Tottenham and acquitted
himself well enough in the first half before things fell apart after the
break, when he hardly touched the ball before being withdrawn after the
hour mark, as Everton crumbled. "After 60 or 70 minutes, I was nearly
Tosun recalled some time later. "I was not fit enough. The tempo
and speed of the Premier League is really tough and the game never stops
but I wanted to give everything."
Tosun's fitness and sharpness continued to be an issue in the following games, with Allardyce forced to explain why his much-vaunted new signing had to be taken out of the firing line: "He’s had service to him
that he’s not held up and he’s found it a bit of a struggle at this
level because of the pace and the physicality of the game. So his
service hasn’t been too bad but his hold-up play hasn’t been like it was
at Besiktas so that’s why he’s not starting the games at the minute
because he’s finding it tough going like every player does, particularly
when they come in January.
"I said we wanted goals, he scored goals in the Champions League and
with Besiktas but may not hit the ground running for us. He hasn’t done
that yet, I’m sure he will do eventually. I’m more concerned about the
other players than I am about Cenk. I’m more likely to feed him slowly
and give him a bit more time over the next few weeks and hopefully by
the end of the season he starts games."
It took a few months for him to settle in a little more, showing he
could finish well enough on some rare occasions but the supply lines were poor. He finished his
first half-season at Everton with 5 goals in 12 starts and continued to struggle for
form under new manager Marco Silva in 2018-19, making just 11 starts in all competitions and scoring
only four goals, a problem he himself
"As a striker, you need to score goals; even if you
do not play well, everybody counts the goals. Last season, I scored 5 in 12 starts. This season... I could
do better. When I played well, I could still have scored more goals.
You gain confidence when you score, then it starts to come every week."
Tosun's struggles in front of goal would continue into thre 2019-20 season in what proved to be a difficult campaign for Everton in general and Silva especially. The Portuguese battled to keep the team on an even keel over the first half of the season but results fell away and the club dropped into the relegation zone, forcing owner Farhad Moshiri to end his tenure in December 2019 and eventually replace him with Carlo Ancelotti.
Tosun had fallen to the bottom of the striking pecking order by that stage and, with concerns over his place in Turkey's Euro2020 squad in mind, he sought a loan move away in the January 2020 transfer window, joining Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season.
His loan move started off brightly with a goal on his full debut for
the Eagles away to Manchester City but he would only feature in three
more games before suffering an injury to his knee
during training and returned to his home club to have the injury
assessed amid fears that he could miss the rest of the season.
duly underwent surgery in March 2020 to correct a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and later told fans via social media
that he expected to be sidelined for 6 or 7 months, through the
Coronavirus crisis of 2020 and beyond, with Everton still struggling to
know what to do with another failed Steve Walsh transfer legacy.
There was an option
on the table for Palace to buy the Turkish international for £20m as part of his loan
deal with Everton but that possibility evaporated with his injury.
Tosun recovered ahead of schedule and returned to action in 2020-21 but he largely failed to persuade Ancelotti that he was adequate competition for Calvert-Lewin. He made just one start, that in an FA Cup Third Round tie against Rotherham in which he scored but
subsequently he was left out of the matchday squad within a week as arrangements were made for him to move away during the January transfer window.
Everton no doubt hoped to move him on for a fee and on a permanent basis but, despite reported interest from CSKA Moscow, he eventually joined former club Besiktas on loan until the summer of 2021, at which point he had 12 months left on his contract with the Blues.
played his first game on loan as a second-half sub in mid-February and
banged in two goals in the closing minutes but he did not play again for
eight weeks before suffering another serious knee injury on only his third game back in Turkey. He underwent surgery to repair a ruptured patella tendon that would
end his season prematurely yet again, and excluded him from the summer
In May 2021, Tosun told a newspaper in Turkey that he intended
to stay with Everton until the end of his contract in June 2022 which he duly did having made another 3 substitute
appearances over the course of his final season before he was released in June.
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