Why Marash Kumbulla could be a good long-term signing for Everton
According to Corriere di Verona via Sport Witness (h/t Liverpool Echo), Everton are among a host of clubs interested in a January swoop for Hellas Verona defender Marash Kumbulla, who is widely regarded as one of the best rising talents in Italy.
The Toffees, though, are expected to face stiff competition from Premier League rivals Man United and Chelsea in their pursuit of the 19-year-old centre-back, who is also on the radar of Fiorentina, Eintracht Frankfurt and Lazio. (Corriere di Verona via Sport Witness h/t Liverpool Echo)
The report adds that the potential suitors for Kumbulla will have to act quickly, with Serie A pace-setters Inter Milan closing in on a €20 million deal to secure the services of the Albanian international.
The highly-rated teenager rose through the youth ranks of Hellas Verona before making his senior professional debut against Catania in the Coppa Italia back in August 2018. Kumbulla has enjoyed a full breakthrough in the first-team at his boyhood club this term, starting 12 times in the Serie A and clocking up 13 appearances in all competitions.
Everton have already completed their first piece of business in the winter market with a deal for 17-year-old Carlisle United wonderkid Jarrad Branthwaite, who is expected to initially link up with the club’s U-18 and U-23 sides.
The Toffees have climbed up to 11th in the standings, seven points clear of the relegation zone, after a bright start to life under the Italian gaffer, however, with the gap between the top-six now narrowed to only four points, the fans at Goodison Park will surely be looking forward to some new arrivals before the January deadline.
Having scored just 25 goals and conceded 33 in 22 games so far, Everton’s problems at both ends of the pitch have been well-documented, and the club’s business in the mid-season window could well have a big impact on where they finally land up in the standings.
The departure of last season’s loanee, Kust Zouma, to Chelsea and the release of veteran Phil Jagielka this past summer meant that the Toffees embarked on the campaign with only three senior central defenders in Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate.
Unfortunately, neither of them has been able to churn out consistent performances at the back week in, week out, and while the arrival of Ancelotti has somewhat improved Everton’s brittle backline, one does get the feeling that the Toffees will eventually need to bring in a new centre-back to increase competition for places.
To that end, Everton have prioritized the recruitment of young and developing players under the stewardship of Director of Football Marcel Brands and Marash Kumbulla could be yet another fantastic addition to the existing pool of burgeoning young talents in Merseyside.
As per whoscored, Kumbulla’s pass accuracy rate of 85.9 in the Serie A this term is marginally better than Mina’s percentage of 83.4 and way better than Keane’s 80.4, while the youngster’s average of 1.7 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game is also better than Keane’s 1.2 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and Mina’s 1.3 tackles, 1.2 interceptions.
The Albanian, who averages 2.1 aerial duels per game, somewhat lags behind the likes of Mina (3.8) and Keane (4.2) in terms of aerial ability, which is quite understandable given that he is a good two or three inches shorter than Everton’s existing central defenders.
Hence, it is clear from those numbers that Kumbulla is just as good, if not, better than Everton’s existing options at the back, and he still has plenty of room for improvement at the age of 19, meaning that a significant outlay in the market for his services would be well worth it.
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