Everton have announced the departure of young full-back Niels Nkounkou. The talented Frenchman will spend the rest of the season in Belgium with Standard Liege.
Nkounkou has made a handful of appearances for Everton since arriving from Marseille last summer. He has played second fiddle to Lucas Digne since joining the Toffees but will now get an opportunity to get some first team action.
However, Nkounkou’s departure leaves Rafa Benitez with very little options at left-back. Lucas Digne is currently the only recognised left-back at Goodison Park.
Niels Nkounkou Exits Everton on Loan
Nkounkou Joins Standard Liege for the Rest of the Season
Since joining Everton last year, Nkounkou has been limited to a handful of appearances mainly in the cup competitions. Signed by Carlo Ancelotti, Nkounkou made his debut in September last year in a cup tie against Salford City.
A further five appearances have followed and Rafa Benitez now feels it’s the right time for the 20-year-old to head out on loan. He has been the understudy to Lucas Digne since arriving at Goodison Park but this is his chance to establish himself and more importantly, aid his development.
He is fresh and ready to go after competing for France at the Olympic Games. Nkounkou is a pacey, no-nonsense full back who loves getting forward. His style of play should suit Belgian football and certainly, he can establish himself as one of Europe’s brightest young full-backs.
He will compete for the left-back spot in the side as Liege target European football. They will face stiff competition from the likes of Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Genk but Nkounkou’s arrival certainly boosts the options available to Liege manager Bruno Venanzi.
It’s a move that suits all parties. This is a great chance for Nkounkou to get some much-needed game time. The move also allows Rafa Benitez to assess his progress and decide whether Nkounkou is in his future plans once his returns to Merseyside.