What happens next with the forgotten Everton man after the exit of Marcel Brands and the decision of Rafa Benitez

Everton finished last season with Lucas Digne as first choice.

The long-term future of this position has also been sorted. Electric teenager Terry Small became the club’s youngest ever player and was making strides at under-23 level.

Ben Godfrey also demonstrated his ability to reverberate, at a high level, when Digne was injured as well.

There was another name on the left-back list.

But the one who might have been forgotten in the recent changes: Nils Nkunku.

At that point, Nkounkou had just turned 12 months into his Everton career and showed flashes of his potential in a season spent primarily with the first team, when, initially at least, he was dedicated to David Unsworth’s group.

After years of searching for a suitable cover for Leighton Baines, Everton appeared to be in good health at left-back.

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Fast forward half a year and Digne was sold, Small went without leave, declined a contract and signed for Southampton.

Nkunko started the season under Rafa Benitez but was told he would need to be loaned out if he was to get match time.

Godfrey (and Seamus Coleman) played for Denny when he fell out with Benitez before the club signed Vitaly Mikolenko from Dynamo Kiev.

And breathe…

So, Everton’s left-back options are as follows:

The £17m Mikolenko appears to be the first choice and should start the day against Norwich City. Godfrey can go on to act when needed and the forgotten man in all of this, Nkounkou remains on loan.

So what happens when he returns?

He has played 16 games for Standard Liege this season, especially as a left-back, and reports on his progress appear to be mixed.

Those close to him have been forced to dismiss the idea of ​​bringing him back to Everton early and believe he has done well in Belgium. They think the loan is working as planned.

So where does it go from here? He will return to Goodison Park in the summer, with a year remaining on his contract but the club looks dramatically different.

The people who worked so hard to sign him, Marcel Brands and Gretar Steinson, are no longer at Everton.

Benitez felt he needed to work on the tactical and defensive side of his game and penalized his loan.

Mykolenko was bought, he is a little older, but noticeably more experienced, and therefore, from one angle it already looks difficult.

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But there is a feeling that a left-back change could ultimately benefit Nkunko, with the young French defender hoping to return to Everton as an immediate replacement for Mikolenko.

The Ukrainian is accepted as the first choice but with cup matches and the possibility of injury or suspension, Nkunko could have chances in the first team over the course of a long season.

Jared Brantwaite was looking for another loan last summer but Benitez felt he would benefit from staying in place and training at Finch Farm. Could Nkunko do the same?

The answers will, of course, reveal themselves in the summer.

Nkunko left Marseille because he felt there was a clearer path at Everton towards the first team.

Does this still exist? The situation has changed, but for now, the young defender doesn’t necessarily feel bad.


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