Saint EEverton loanee, Niels Nkounkou put in a stellar performance, providing 2 assists for his side today in their 3-2 victory in Ligue 2, an important win in Saint-Etienne’s fight against relegation.
Everton completed the signing of Nkounkou in the summer prior to the 2020-21 season, with the Frenchman’s contract at Marseille coming to an end.
In his first season at Goodison Park, he made 7 appearances, most of which would come in either the EFL Cup or FA Cup. However, he would make his debut in the Premier League in a 2-1 loss to Newcastle United at St James’ Park, replacing Lucas Digne who was ruled out with an injury.
He would spend last season on loan with Belgian giants, Standard Liege before returning to Merseyside in the summer, where he was expected to fight for the left-back role with Vitaly Mykolenko in Frank Lampard’s side.
However, he would eventually be sent on loan to the Championship with Cardiff City during the summer window. Although he was expected to finish the season in the Welsh capital, his loan was eventually cut short and he was, instead, sent to Ligue 2 (French second division) to join relegation strugglers Saint-Etienne.
Saint-Etienne are a giant of French football, winning 10 Ligue 1 titles and even finishing runner-up in the Champions League in 1976.
However, due to recent financial difficulties, they find themselves at threat of relegation to the 3rd tier.
They had lost their last 2 matches going into this clash with Annecy FC, sitting 2nd bottom in Ligue 2.
Annecy FC would take an early lead but the home side would swiftly draw level thanks to a Wadji goal that was assisted by Nkounkou.
Saint Etienne would take the lead, only for it to be cancelled out by the away side 10 minutes later. However, Cafaro would latch on to another Nkounkou cross to seal the 3 points for the home side.
The 22-year-old may struggle to break into Sean Dyche’s Everton side when he returns from his loan deal, mostly due to his lack of defensive qualities.
However, if he continues to perform as he is currently, the blues could well make a decent amount of money out of his sale in the summer.