Moise Kean's challenging Everton start continues but a single goal can break the dam

Moise Kean's challenging Everton start continues but a single goal can break the dam
Moise Kean's challenging Everton start continues but a single goal can break the dam

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Carlo Ancelotti had misheard. Moise? Moyes? An easy confusion. Ancelotti, the Everton manager, assumed he was being asked a press-conference question about his West Ham counterpart, David Moyes, rather than his Italian compatriot, the striker Moise Kean, around whom there may be many questions, although none of them easily answered.

Ancelotti chose not to delve too deeply into the question of Kean's vanished goals since the player joined Everton in August. Between that transfer window and this winter one, he has had a challenging time. One change of manager already at his first Premier League club, and no goals in his 13 league outings.

Kean will turn 20 next month, so there is a long period ahead of him to realise the potential Everton invested in when they, to great excitement, pounced on the invitation offered to many potential suitors by the player running down his contract with Juventus, which had a year to run, and bought him for an initial €29 million (Dh118m).

But his current form is not what Everton anticipated. For Juventus, where he was principally used as an impact substitute, Kean had got used to scoring Serie A goals at an eye-catching rate of one every 79 minutes on the pitch, enough to recommend him to the full Italy national team at the age of 18. Last March he became the Azzurri’s youngest goalscorer for over 60 years.

At West Ham on Saturday, Ancelotti started with Kean in his XI, up front in the absence of the injured Richarlison. He will make a fresh judgment on his attacking options for the hosting of Newcastle on Tuesday based on Richarlison’s recovery from a knee problem, and meanwhile urges patience with the teenager.

“He needs to adapt a bit, to a new country and a different intensity,” said Ancelotti after the 1-1 draw at West Ham. “But it’s good for him to have minutes, and improve his confidence.”

The manager did not dwell on Kean’s role in West Ham’s goal, scored by Issa Diop from a corner after the defender eased in front of Kean, his marker, to head in from a set-piece - Moyes’s strategy 1, Moise’s sleepiness 0. Ancelotti was, though, encouraged by a lively start to the match by the tyro before Kean’s influence faded in the period until he was substituted.

Marco Silva, Ancelotti’s predecessor, also used to advise patience with the prodigy, knowing that the effervescence of Kean last season, when a burst of six goals in as many matches pushed Juventus away from Napoli - then coached by Ancelotti - in the Italian title race and announced Kean as a genuine candidate for Italy’s Euro 2020 team.

That target looks more and more distant, with the championship five months away and still no Everton goals to his name. Kean is not unsettled, but he is bound to glance at how his former Italy under-21 striking partner, Patrick Cutrone, has tackled a difficult initiation to the Premier League at the same time.

Cutrone, who turned 22 earlier this month, joined Wolverhampton Wanderers from AC Milan in the summer, like Kean looking to build on the impact he had made as a teenager in senior football with Milan.

By the end of December, in spite of contributing usefully to Wolves’s Europa League campaign and netting a couple of Premier League goals, his role as understudy to Raul Jimenez at centre-forward remained firmly assigned. Cutrone wanted more playing time, and has joined Fiorentina on loan.

Twelve minutes into his first start for Fiorentina, in the Coppa Italia against Atalanta, Cutrone was into his stride, scoring his first goal in Italy for over a year, after a slick 1-2 with winger Dalbert. First strike in Cutrone’s ambition to catch the eye of Italy head coach Roberto Mancini with the Euros imminent.

Meanwhile, Mancini still hopes Kean might remind him of the tearaway qualities and the finishing that made him such a dazzling Italy debutant and that the change of coach at Everton will boost Kean. “Ancelotti can give him a hand,” Mancini told Gazzetta dello Sport, “but he needs to be doing more to become a major player.”

A single goal can break the dam. For which Kean might take inspiration, ahead of Tuesday night, from Newcastle’s expensive summer recruit.

Joelinton, the Brazilian centre-forward, cost a club-record €46m from Hoffenheim and after one Newcastle goal in 23 Premier League appearances, has been feeling growing pressure.

But Joelinton broke a drought that had lasted since August with an FA Cup goal last week, and his manager, Steve Bruce, senses a corner has been turned. After a confident display in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea, Bruce noted: “You can see the difference a goal made to him.”

Updated: January 21, 2020 07:50 AM

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