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Cenk Tosun 14

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well enough in the first half before things fell apart after the break, when he hardly touched the ball before being withdrawn after the hour mark, as Everton crumbled.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 dead," 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 acknowledged: 

"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.

He 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.

Tosun 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 transfer window.

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.


Squad number 14
Position Striker
Nationality Turkish
Born Wetzlar, Ger
Date of birth 7 June 1991
Height 6'-0" (1.83 m)
Joined 4 January 2018
Joined from Besiktas
Signed under Sam Allardyce
Transfer fee £21M (^£22M)
Contract duration 4½ years
Contract expired June 2022
Full debut v Tottenham H (A)
13 January 2018
Left Everton 10 June 2022
Left for Released
Transfer Fee No Fee
Previous Clubs Eintracht Frankfurt
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Everton Career

Season Squad No. League Apps (sub) League Goals Cup Apps (sub) Cup Goals Total Apps (sub) Total Goals
2021-22 14 0 (1) 0 0 (2) 0 0 (3) 0
2020-21 14 0 (5) 0 1 (1) 1 1 (6) 1
2019-20 14 2 (3) 1 0 (3) 0 2 (6) 1
2018-19 14 10 (15) 3 1 (3) 1 11 (18) 4
12 (2)
0 (0)
12 (2)
  Totals 24 (26) 9 2 (9) 2 26 (35) 11

Loan Spells

Season Team League Apps League Goals Cup Apps Cup Goals
2020-21 Besiktas 2 (1) 3 0 (0) 0
2019-20 Crystal Palace 2 (3) 1 0 (0) 0

Previous Career

Season Team League Apps League Goals Cup Apps Cup Goals
2014-17 Besiktas 50 (46) 41 11 (19) 11
2011-14 Gaziantepspor 60 (3) 23 46 (0) 16
2009-11 Eintracht Frankfurt 0 (1) 0 0 (0) 0

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