In 2013, an ascending Everton F.C poached late-blooming striker Arouna Kone from Wigan. Paying a £6 million release clause, alongside an undisclosed fee, the premiership club took a gamble and signed the then twenty-nine year-old African player on a three-year deal..
Initially both Kone and newly appointed Everton manager Robetro Martinez were delighted with the deal. Kone, who had come into his prime relatively late, stated that ‘ “every player dreams of playing for a bigger club and coming here is a big step up for me.’ Moreover, having previously signed Kone to Levante UD when he was manager there, Martinez clearly had both faith and vision for the talented forward. However, this positivity and excitement regarding the striker’s future was short lived.
Kone sustained a serve knee ligament injury in October 2013 that, eventually, kept him on the bench till December 2014. Indeed, there had been rumours prior to Kone’s eventual return that, if his injury had been prolonged much longer, that Martinez would have been forced to sign another striker during the transfer window that year.
As it happened, Kone returned in December and promptly scored a goal in Everton’s 3-2 defeat against Newcastle. However, since then both Kone and Everton’s performances have failed to live up to their joint expectations of his return.
The club, which celebrated its 61st consecutive season in the top division of English football, has failed to win a league match since mid-December and rode a four-match losing streak into 2015. This run of bad form has seen Everton sink from its 2013/2014 season ending position of 5th to 12th in the league.
The issue is that Kone, who had successful stints with Spanish clubs Levante UD and Sevilla FC, is unlikely to recover the winning form that Everton poached him for. Whilst still showing flashes of brilliance, the thirty-one year-old’s knee is still questionable and, if damaged again, would likely end Kone’s career. This does not mean that Kone is to blame for Everton’s recent downward spiral, or for his own injury, but that his return is no-longer seen as monumental enough to change the clubs fortunes.
This is the sad reality for players who, like Kone, injure themselves during their later years. Whilst younger players are seen as worthy of future investment, even when they are in the midst of serious injury, older players are often seen as a liability in the same situation. Especially, when they demand huge fees without any guarantee they will be match fit for the majority of their contracts.
Considering this, it is unsurprising that Everton is rumoured to be eyeing Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato. If true, it appears that Martinez is turning his hopes to a younger, and fitter, striker this time to turn the club’s fortunes around.