Humiliated by being subbed as a sub after 18 minutes and benched for a game at Fleetwood – to scoring in a win over Barcelona… Everton flop Moise Kean has restored his reputation as one of Europe’s hottest young strikers at PSG
- Moise Kean is thriving at PSG having failed to make the starting XI at Everton
- Italian joined the Toffees in the summer of 2019 in a £24m deal from Juventus
- But he scored just four times in 37 appearances as he struggled on Merseyside
- He was also humiliatingly subbed as a sub by Duncan Ferguson at Old Trafford
- But after scoring against Barcelona, Kean has become key to PSG’s aspirations
At just 20 years of age, Moise Kean has already had a rollercoaster of a ride in first-team football.
Take this season as a snapshot. From being benched for a Carabao Cup game at Fleetwood in September to, five months on, netting in the Champions League last-16 at the Nou Camp – the turnaround has been staggering.
A player who cost Everton £24m seems to have finally found his feet on loan at PSG, playing alongside Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Mauro Icardi in attack. He has started 15 times in Ligue 1 so far and his goal tally stands at an impressive 14 in 25 matches in all competitions.
Moise Kean has gone from being on the bench at Everton to scoring for PSG at Barcelona
That includes a match-winning double at Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League group-stage, as well as the winner against Nice last weekend and Caen in the French Cup a few days earlier.
Previously for Thomas Tuchel and now for Mauricio Pochettino, Kean is a reliable source of goals. What makes his rich vein in form all the more impressive is how he has reacted to adversity at such a young age.
Upon signing for Everton in the summer of 2019, director of football Marcel Brands insisted the club would ‘look after him’ after a difficult introduction to first-team football at Juventus, primarily due to racist abuse experienced in April 2018 during a match at Cagliari.
Kean reacts in Cagliari after scoring and being subjected to racist abuse in April 2019
- Games: 37
- Goals/assists: 4/2
- Games: 25
- Goals/assists: 14/1
However, he went 21 games before his first goal for the Toffees, in a difficult opening few months which included nothing short of a humiliation at Old Trafford.
With the club having dispensed of Marco Silva, club legend Duncan Ferguson took caretaker charge and, with his side battling against Manchester United, he brought on the 19-year-old in the 70th minute.
United soon scored an equaliser and Ferguson – keen to shut up shop – opted to substitute Kean just 18 minutes after he had come on, as they held out for a draw.
The scene of a crestfallen Kean walking down the touchline and into the tunnel past an animated Ferguson just about summed up his first season on Merseyside.
Look after him? Four months in, that claim was in tatters.
Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival not long after the Manchester debacle did not trigger Kean’s development. He was still just restricted to just six Premier League starts in his first season, with opportunities mostly coming from the bench.
And this season, when in need of a reliable frontman, Ancelotti did not turn to his compatriot.
Duncan Ferguson substituted Kean 18 minutes after the Italian came on in December 2019
Instead, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was entrusted with the starting number nine berth. Four goals in two matches to open up the 2020-21 season – and Kean’s chances of regular minutes dwindled once more.
The personal low-point came in the third round of the Carabao Cup where, after scoring in the previous round against Salford City, Kean did not make the starting XI against League One opposition.
However, he did come on to score with a neat finish into the corner. And as the October transfer deadline approached, PSG spotted an opportunity to bring in some cover – and relaunch Kean’s career.
The Italian forward scored twice in his second Ligue 1 match for PSG against Dijon in October
Having signed on a season-long loan he hit the ground running, scoring twice in his second Ligue 1 appearance against Dijon. Rather impressively, in a period from November 28-January 9, the ex-Juve man scored a consistent six goals in eight games.
On Tuesday though, Pochettino gave Kean the ultimate responsibility, starting in a front-three alongside Mbappe and Icardi, in the absence of Neymar, at the Nou Camp.
In the competition which PSG value above all others, the 20-year-old did not look out of place amongst a never-ending lineup of talent on both sides.
His goal, a powerful downward header from a whipped free-kick, was indicative of his knack for being in the right place at the right time. Goal number 14 of his most potent season yet put him above Neymar in PSG’s goalscoring ranks.
Kean’s downward header was PSG’s third goal on a dream night against Barcelona on Tuesday
The 20-year-old has now scored more goals this season than PSG team-mate Neymar
In the most unusual of circumstances in a season like no other, Kean has restored his reputation as one of Europe’s hottest young strikers.
For the short-term, there’s no need for worry for the player himself. Kean can continue to thrive under Pochettino at the Parc des Princes, and is likely to pick up a few winners medals along the way.
Yet in the long-term, uncertainty still shrouds the Italian international. The Ligue 1 champions don’t have an option-to-buy included as part of the loan deal – but a permanent deal could certainly materialise.
With finances no obstacle in the French capital, a transfer could certainly be done with Everton, who should receive a fair chunk of that £24m investment back – if not all of it.
Kean has quickly earned the trust of new PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino and is a regular starter
But actually, is Kean’s terrific form prompting embarrassed faces on Merseyside? Will Everton now look to hold on to him this summer, particularly if their goal of European football is realised and a larger squad is required to cope?
Play their cards right, and Everton could just be the biggest beneficiaries of an inspired acquisition by PSG and his subsequent run of goals.
Who knows – he might even return to Goodison Park as a Champions League winner.
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