Everton have had a more positive outlook on their Premier League season since the arrival of Sean Dyche at Goodison Park and now the club have a great chance of surviving relegation if they can continue their form under the new manager.

The Toffees are now 16th in the league table following their victory over Leeds United at the weekend, however, they still remain in contention for the drop as they are currently just one point clear of the relegation zone with 15 fixtures remaining.

There is absolutely no doubt that the club must reinvest and give the manager the opportunity to make changes to the squad going forward to ensure they do not slip into yet another relegation scrap, providing that the former Burnley boss is able to retain Everton’s Premier League status at the end of the season.

There are a number of players who are not up to scratch in the side, whether that be due to being consistently unavailable through injury issues or being unable to put together reliable performances on the pitch, and Vitaliy Mykolenko is one of them.

The £58k-per-week dud has been dribbled past a whopping ten times in the last three games – four against Arsenal, three against Liverpool and then three times again against Leeds on Saturday.

Not only that, over 23 league appearances this season, the Ukrainian left-back has lost 53% of his duels combined, failed to complete 55% of his dribble attempts, and averaged just 26.1 accurate passes per game, which suggests that the dud has become somewhat of a liability in the Toffees back line.

As a result, Dyche could save millions on a replacement for the defender by unleashing Everton’s Niels Nkounkou next season, with the full-back currently showing glimpses of his talent on loan with Saint-Etienne in Ligue 2.

How is Nkounkou performing on loan?

The 22-year-old ace joined the French side in January after being recalled from his loan spell at Cardiff City in the Championship in the first half of the season and has thrived at both clubs over the campaign so far.

Over 18 Championship appearances, Nkounkou – hailed as a “magnificent” find by Stephen Warnock – registered one assist, successfully completed 51% of his dribble attempts and created two big chances, as well as averaging 2.2 tackles, 1.4 clearances, 52.4 touches and won 4.9 duels per game.

Since moving to Saint-Etienne, the young left-back has continued to thrive over his six league appearances so far with one goal scored, three assists and two big chances created, whilst averaging 1.2 key passes, 2.3 tackles, and five duels won per game.

These statistics show that the dynamo has been a huge presence on the left flank and is capable of quickly adapting to new surroundings and teammates.

The talented Frenchman joined the Merseysiders in 2020 on a free transfer from Ligue 1 giants Olympique de Marseille and was already getting recognition for his ability – earning appearances in the France U19s team.

Nkounkou has made seven senior appearances in the Everton first team, with one assist registered, but was unable to break into the team as a regular due to competing with Lucas Digne for the left-back spot in the team.

However, Dyche could now give the player a golden opportunity to become a consistent feature at Goodison Park when he returns in the summer and could ultimately allow the coach to ditch Mykolenko next term if the youngster can apply his current output in the Premier League.

With that being said, the future is looking bright for Nkounkou and the Everton manager will surely be watching the player closely as he works towards building a better future and improved performances at the club, given the current first-choice left-back’s disappointing performances of late.


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