Marco Silva has a selection dilemma ahead of Cardiff City’s visit to Goodison Park on Saturday. Who should start at centre half?
Considering the struggles Ronald Koeman, David Unsworth and Sam Allardyce had over their central defensive options, it is a breath of fresh air that Silva has to face a conundrum like this.
Michael Keane’s Everton turnaround is something to admire.
The 25-year-old looked hopeless last term, recently citing he played through the pain barrier for much of the season.
But since Silva entered the fray, Keane has looked a completely different player.
Winning headers, tackles and bullying strikers in his way.
At this point, the £25m man seems undroppable, something that many would’ve laughed at if it was said this time last year.
Keane has spent the majority of the season next to Kurt Zouma and their form has been superb.
The pair have crafted a real bond in the eight games they have played together. A lot better than the partnerships Keane had to put up with last campaign, alongside Ashley Williams or Phil Jagielka.
But despite Zouma’s good form, Everton’s best clean sheet of the season came at Stamford Bridge, a game in which the Frenchman was ineligible.
£28m summer signing Yerry Mina stepped in for his first Premier League start and looked like he’d been at the Toffees for years.
The Colombian giant man-marked an inform Álvaro Morata to perfection, Eden Hazard didn’t have a sniff. Mina came out of it as Man of the Match.
So this is the predicament the Portuguese boss finds himself in.
It would not be seen as fair to drop Mina after a performance like the one before the international break.
But it would be hard luck on Zouma to lose his place completely just because he was unavailable for one fixture.
There is no question about Keane, he has been colossal this season and must be one of the first names on Silva’s team-sheet.
An alternative could see Silva switch to a three at the back formation to accommodate all three. But whilst the 41-year-old is still in a transitional period he won’t want to chop and change his set-up at will.
Of course, competition for places is essential as it brings the best out of people. Unlike last season when Williams seemed untouchable because no one was there to challenge the Wales skipper.
But for now, the former Watford boss won’t want to cause any unrest in the dressing room.
So ideally, he needs to find his best pairing for the long term. If Zouma isn’t an option on a permanent basis then it must be players owned by the club who get first shout, and that would be a pairing that has cost Farhad Moshiri over £50 million — Keane and Mina.
Both are in their early to mid 20s and could prove to be stalwarts at the back for the club for years to come if they are given the time to grow as a partnership.
But it is a long hard season ahead with FA Cup action set to start in January. So chances will come for all, even those left in the dark such as Jagielka, who came on for a cameo against Chelsea and Mason Holgate, who hasn’t featured since Everton’s 3-1 loss at home to West Ham.