Ask Ademola Lookman how his Everton career is going and the answer won’t be a positive one. The answer will be a similar one if you only asked about his career in general. To say the 20-year-old is a little directionless would be understating it.
It was not supposed to be this way. As first impressions go Lookman’s could not have gone better at Goodison Park. A goal on his debut in a 4-0 win over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City set tongues wagging. Early on, Lookman appeared to be a massive bargain. Many Blues on Merseyside raved, predicting he could be the next big youngster to make his mark at the club. In the 20 months since that date, it has been a downward spiral. Not long after that stellar debut, doubts began to be raised about Lookman. Rumours suggested he was unsettled and unhappy in the North West. It meant he ended the 2016/17 season with seven more appearances to his name. None of them were memorable.
By the beginning of last season, questions were still circulating about him. Then manager Ronald Koeman was not keen. Neither was his successor Sam Allardyce. Despite that Everton team lacking any kind of pace or potency up front, Lookman could not get into the starting line up. Even an impressive performance in the Europa League did nothing to change minds.
So much so that by the end of the January transfer window, Lookman was on his way to Germany in a loan move with RB Leipzig. There, he would flourish. In 11 Bundesliga games, he managed five goals and four assists. An impressive record indeed and one that created further frustration at Goodison Park.
For fans who were being served up dull, lacklustre and slow football under Allardyce Lookman would have been akin to the saviour. He would have provided pace, trickery and direct running. Basically, all the things that the current team in Blue was lacking. But instead of doing in Liverpool he was doing it in Leipzig.
So impressive were his performances, Leipzig did their utmost to make the move a permanent one this summer. Everton, though, resisted. New Director of Football Marcel Brands and manager Marco Silva insisted Lookman was the future of the club. Indeed, the former had insisted the youngster had been on his shortlist for some time.
Yet so far this season for Lookman, it has been much of the same. With Richarlison shining and Theo Walcott reinvigorated, he hasn’t been able to get a look in. His consistent absences have become a talk of discussion once more. Already, Silva has begun to look frustrated with the consistent questions about him.
A substitute appearance in the 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town before the international break provided evidence of why he has been missing. Lookman looked lost. The spark that shone in Leipzig was missing. In its place, was a youngster full of indecision. It was a performance he repeated with a lacklustre display for England’s U21s. Lookman, it seems, still has his head and heart in Germany.
Life, though, often provides opportunities when they are least expected. And that may have just occurred at Everton. An injury crisis has given Lookman his chance to shine.
With Theo Walcott, Bernard and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all on the treatment table and Richarlison a ban, Lookman finds himself at the front of the pecking order. It would be a huge surprise should he not start against West Ham United on Sunday.
Four games into the season and the Hammers are yet to get going under Mauricio Pellegrini. Defensively, they have been shambolic. A major issue has been dealing with pace. That was on show when Adama Traore raced away to finish and secure a win for Wolves last time around.
They have also been susceptible to players willing to run at the defence. A lack of protection in midfield has left their defence exposed on more than one occasion. Lookman should be rubbing his hands at the prospect of facing them. The 20-year-old could not ask for better opponents. If he can rediscover a hint of the player that shone in Germany, West Ham will be in for a tough time. Even half of that player would be a test for the shaky Hammers defence.
Fortune favours the bold, it is time for Ademola Lookman to be just that and give his stalling Everton career the kick-start it so desperately needs.
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