It is no secret in the footballing world that Everton have been longing for a striker since Lukaku upped sticks and moved to Manchester United a few years back. The club has been searching for a player who can be the focal point of their attack, whilst possessing the firepower to score 15+ goals in a season. Ideally, any potential signing would aide the development of young Dominic Calvert-Lewin, as for now, it is unclear if he is the right man to guide Everton to the top six and beyond on his own.
The hunt for a striker may be coming to an end, however. With reports in Portugal claiming that Everton are in the hunt for Lille striker Rafael Leao, the end could be near for what has been a nightmare of a battle to replace Lukaku. Sandro Ramirez was dubbed a ‘young Wayne Rooney‘, but has yet to score a league goal since his move to Everton in 2017, Wayne Rooney was never capable of playing as a striker in his advancing years at the club, Cenk Tosun does not seem good enough and Oumar Niasse does not have the technical proficiency to play in the Premier League.
Dubbed the ‘Portuguese Mbappe‘, Rafael Leao appears to have every quality to be a perfect fit for the Premier League. His technical and physical attributes make him one of the most exciting strikers in world football and as the newly turned 20-year-old develops, his market valuation of just €15m makes him a steal.
Although Everton have their competitors for the player, particularly in the form of Champions League-bound Valencia, they must feel comfortable that they are a club which can offer Leao the freedom to grow as a player in the Premier League due to their recent experience of having developing youngsters such as John Stones, Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku. Leao will be able to view Everton as the perfect place to play regular football, whilst being in the shop window for a move to one of Europe’s elite.
Since Marcel Brands and Marco Silva have been making the decisions at Everton, a lot of Portuguese speaking players have joined the club, such as Bernard, Richarlison and Andre Gomes. This does not seem a coincidence and a clear vision for Marco Silva to be able to develop players who speak his native tongue.
Leao’s game time could be shared with current young striker Calvert-Lewin, who certainly has the physical capacity to become a top striker in the Premier League, but occasionally lacks the ruthlessness to fully convince fans that he will bury a chance that falls his way. Having the competition between two top young talents who both play for their countries at youth level will further their development as footballers.
Rafael Leao was branded “The best player in Sporting’s academy since Cristiano Ronaldo“, and helping Lille to an impressive second-place position, whilst scoring 8 goals in 24 games, last season was a sign of his development. After one short year in France, a move to Everton and the bright lights of the Premier League may be the perfect place for Leao to make the next move in his no doubt exceptional career.