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Everton’s transfer window was one of the success stories of the summer. The Toffees did some marvelous business in the last couple of months, strengthening the squad significantly as Ronald Koeman looks to build a team capable of challenging England’s big six in the seasons to come.
The Merseysiders bolstered their defensive ranks with the addition of Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Cuco Martina. They went on to add creativity and goals to their attacking midfield areas with the addition of Davy Klaassen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Nikola Vlasic. Striking reinforcements arrived in the form of Sandro Ramirez and Wayne Rooney.
Yet, when the deadline day ended, there was some amount of discontentment within the club. And the reason for that was Everton’s failure to sign a new striker before the window closed. Having lost Romelu Lukaku, their highest goal-scorer in the Premier League, to Manchester United in the summer, a new prolific centre-forward was very much the need of the hour for the Toffees.
Rooney, for all his glorious records, is on the wane. Sandro is still young, and it is his first time away from homeland Spain. So, a proven marksman, who could get them goals in large numbers, from the get-go, was very much needed.
Over the summer, they were linked with a number of strikers, and as per reports from the Daily Mail, they made a number of enquiries on the deadline day to try and sign a new forward – Fernando Llorente, Fiorentina’s Khouma Babacar, Raul Jimenez of Benfica, Michy Batshuayi, Lucas Perez and Kenneth Zohore of Cardiff City were all approached.
Yet, they could not get a deal done before the transfer window slammed shut, leaving them short of options at the top. However, there is still an opportunity for the club to address this issue by dipping into the free agent pool and bring in a centre-forward on a Bosman transfer.
One name that the Toffees should look to sign for free is Malian striker Cheick Diabate. The 29-year old is a free agent after having his contract with Turkish club Osmanlispor cancelled. He is available to be signed and Koeman should take a look at the possibility.
Diabate started off his career in Europe with French outfit Bordeaux, whose youth side he joined in 2006. After a couple of loan spells with Ajaccio and Nancy, the striker became a regular for the Bordeaux first-team since 2010 and went on to amass 152 appearances, in which he scored 66 goals and chalked up 16 assists. 50 of those goals came in the French Ligue1, from 129 games (7,499 mins), at a rate of one goal every 150 minutes.
After a successful six-year spell, the Mali international moved on to join Osmanlispor in the summer of 2016, but found goals hard to come by in Turkey. He managed just 6 goals in 16 games and was eventually loaned out to French club FC Metz for the second half of the season. He found his goal-scoring boots again in France, as he netted 8 times in 14 Ligue1 games. At the end of the season, he managed 14 goals in 30 games, for both the clubs combined – not a bad record by any means.
Standing at over 6ft 4in, Diabate fits the profile of a strong and burly forward that Koeman wanted to bring in. Extremely strong in air, the 29-year old comes out on top in headed duels in the opposition box and also uses his strength and body well, to hold up the ball at the other end of the pitch. A lethal finisher as well, the 37-time capped Mali international has displayed great composure in front of goal and if chances are created, he will find the back of the net.
With the creative talent at Koeman’s disposal, there should not be any shortage of chances coming Diabate’s way and if he manages to show the kind of form he has done for Bordeaux and Metz in the past, the 29-year old could prove to be an ideal stop-gap option for Everton, until the next transfer window.