What is happening with Everton’s defence? With four players out the door and more to follow
With four defensive departures already confirmed, it’s unclear what the future holds for Sean Dyche’s defence.
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Everton have allowed defenders Conor Coady, Yerry Mina, Niels Nkounkou and Ruben Vinagre to leave the club this summer and there’s also some serious question marks over the rest of the rearguard. What on earth is happening to Everton’s defence?
Mina confirmed prior to the Bournemouth game that he was leaving the club when his contract expires in the summer, loanee Vinagre played just 204 minutes and will return to Sporting CP. On top of that, the club have allowed Nkounkou, who shined at St. Etienne with six goals and eight assists in 19 games, to make his loan deal at the French club permanent, just days after the Premier League season had ended.
Lastly, Everton confirmed yesterday they would not be exercising their option-to-buy Coady, with a fee set at around £4.5m. The native-scouser had connected with the fans and been a mainstay in the team across the season, but Sean Dyche has allowed him to return to Wolves. With four players gone, there’s still major doubts over the future of Mason Holgate and even Ben Godfrey.
According to Paul Joyce, writing for the Times, it remains to be seen whether the pair remain at Everton this summer, with the club looking to trim what is considered a ‘bloated squad’. Holgate has been one of Dyche’s least used players since arriving. Godfrey has been utilised across the whole defence and infamously frustrated Erling Haaland at the Etihad Stadium during Everton’s 1-1 draw under Frank Lampard, and the defender should be retained, despite his injury issues.
At full-back, Vitalyi Mykolenko remains their only true left-back which means the club will most likely need to recruit in that area next season, especially considering Nkounkou will depart the club. On the other flank, Coleman is likely to earn a contract extension, but at 34, he shouldn’t be relied upon as a starter despite his brilliant efforts this season. Nathan Patterson is the successor on that side, but he too has struggled with injury issues.
On a more positive note, Jarrad Branthwaite will return to the club after a successful spell at PSV Eindhoven. The 20-year-old centre-back has played down talk of a move to the Dutch club, as his future will be decided this summer, but you can imagine that Dyche will want to make a firm decision on the towering defender. There would be question marks over whether he could take the step up at a young age to start for Everton, but he enjoyed 37 appearances across five competitions in the Netherlands last season, scoring twice.
Whatever happens this summer, there will have to be a lot of movement at the club to fix not only a disjointed squad but to ensure the club isn’t fighting for their Premier League status come May next year. There’s plenty of work to be done.