Ademola Lookman’s Everton career has come to an
A saga which has dragged on for well over a
year has reached a conclusion, with a deal believed to be in the region of
£22million having taken him to RB Leipzig, the Bundesliga club where Lookman
enjoyed a fruitful loan spell in 2018.
Lookman, signed for a reported £10million from Charlton in January 2017, travelled with Everton’s squad to their training camp in Switzerland, though took no part in games against FC Sion or AS Monaco.
Last season, Everton turned down numerous
offers from Leipzig for the 21-year-old, with Marco Silva labelling Lookman as
“the present and future” of the club. In January, Silva again praised the
forward, who had started to push for a place in the first team, although in
March, the manager questioned Lookman’s commitment and application during
However, it was not to be for Lookman – whose
Everton career arguably peaked in his first appearance – at Goodison Park.
And while it is easy to point our Lookman’s
failure to fully apply his talent when on the pitch, there are a number of
other factors as to why his time on Merseyside just simply did not work out.
A FLYING START
Just four minutes after coming on as a
substitute against Manchester City, Lookman made his mark, slotting coolly
through Claudio Bravo’s legs to cap off a 4-0 win over Pep Guardiola’s side at
Goodison Park. It was one of his first touches in an Everton shirt.
An impressive cameo against Crystal Palace
followed, with Lookman coming on to cause havoc against his local south London
team at Selhurst Park as Everton ground out a 1-0 win thanks to Seamus
Coleman’s late strike.
Lookman’s first start came in a memorable clash
against Bournemouth, with Ronald Koeman – who had previously
ostracised Gerard Deulofeu – electing to throw the new arrival in at the deep
end against Bournemouth. Flashes of skill were shown, though in a nine-goal
thriller, Lookman failed to truly cement himself on the game.
Nevertheless, two more starts would follow,
though the second, in a miserable draw against Middlesbrough, proved to be his
final appearance from the off of 2016-17, which leads onto the next point.
Heading into 2017-18, Everton’s lack of pace
Lookman offered a counter to that, though was
used sparingly by Koeman. He impressed, on the right, against Hadjuk Split at
home, but in the return leg, was hauled off at half-time.
He was hardly seen for the rest of Koeman’s
tenure, coming back in – and then back out – of the team when David Unsworth
took temporary charge. He then starred as Craig Shakespeare took a
second-string side to a Europa League dead-rubber in Cyprus, though Sam
Allardyce did not take a risk heading into the Christmas period.
An impressive cameo against Liverpool in an
ultimately fruitless FA Cup clash at Anfield looked set to put Lookman to the
head of the queue for Allardyce, but it proved not to be the case.
LEIPZIG COME CALLING
With Allardyce showing no sign of handing
Lookman a path to the first team, the youngster asked for a loan move to
Bundesliga side Leipzig, who had declared their interest.
Allardyce – in another example of the inept
mismanagement which littered his brief, torrid time at Goodison Park – wanted Lookman
to join Derby County, but the winger held his ground, and got the move he
Lookman wasted no time in proving Allardyce
wrong, scoring the winner on his Leipzig debut, and he went on to finish the
season with five goals and four assists in Germany’s top flight.
A SECOND CHANCE
Speculation was rife in summer 2018 that
Lookman would secure an immediate, permanent return to Leipzig, but Everton
held firm, with Silva and Brands publicly stating their intent to keep the then
That they did, and after a staggered start to
the campaign, Lookman began to establish himself in the squad, if not the
starting XI, with Silva often turning to him as the first substitute, including
in huge games away at Stamford Bridge and Anfield.
Lookman looked sharp and eager to impress,
though struggled to maintain that form when handed a rare start, and as the
season progressed, his chances became more infrequent, with a struggling Theo
Walcott often preferred.
It should be pointed out, however, that Lookman
and Walcott’s skillsets differ. Both though comfortable in wide areas, Lookman
is much more of a playmaker, more akin to Bernard in that sense, rather than
the more traditional wing play of Walcott. One player to run in behind, one
player to cut inside and link the play from the other flank. It would hardly be
getting the best out of Lookman to have him play the first role, whereas
Walcott’s pace – if nothing else – provides him with the edge in that regard.
Lookman’s final appearance at Goodison Park in
an Everton shirt almost brought a moment to savour. A clever turn, some neat
footwork and an exceptional shot that, had it been inches lower, would have
buried itself in the top corner.
As it was, the bar came to Burnley’s rescue and
has seemingly provided an apt summary to Lookman’s stint with the Toffees.
Close to excellence, but falling just short of the mark.