April 19, 2024

Everton manager Sean Dyche took his side’s ten-point deduction with a shrug of the shoulders and the kind of galvanising stoicism that has been a trademark of his demeanour and deceptive charisma on the Premier League scene.

The Toffees lost 3-0 to Manchester United after the deduction but then won away against Nottingham Forest to move within two points of 17th-placed Luton Town – technically, Everton have 17 points right now, two off tenth-placed Chelsea.

There is every confidence that the ship will be steered back on course, but Dyche would be wise to make a shrewd investment in the January transfer window, and Lyon’s Jake O’Brien could be the man.

Everton transfer news – Jake O’Brien

According to French outlet Foot Mercato, Everton are ‘thinking’ of making a winter swoop for the defender as Dyche looks to strengthen his relegation-threatened squad.

O’Brien joined the struggling French club from Crystal Palace for a reported fee of £1m in the summer, and while he has impressed recently, the Merseysiders could look to lure him back across the channel.

Jake O’Brien’s style of play

Self-described as a “ball-playing centre-back who likes to bring the ball out and distribute”, as well as noting his Irish “fighting spirit”, O’Brien didn’t feature across Lyon’s opening five league matches but has since started seven times in succession, remarkably scoring three goals – including a recent brace against Lens.

As per FBref, he ranks among the top 1% of centre-halves across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals, the top 11% for pass completion and the top 15% for touches in the attacking box per 90, underpinning his offensive style.

Having scored three goals in Ligue 1, the Irishman has actually outscored Tottenham Hotspur’s Richarlison this term having played fewer league matches, with the Brazilian forward scoring two Premier League goals since the start of last term.

Richarlison, who joined Spurs from Everton for £60m in 2022, was an immense talisman for the Merseyside outfit but has struggled to impress in London.

brennan-johnson-richarlison-tottenham-opinion

While James Tarkowski, aged 31, has been brilliant under Dyche’s wing this season and certainly isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future, O’Brien could be brought in to succeed the one-time Burnley titan.

Perhaps even forming a dynamic partnership with Jarrad Branthwaite, who’s turning out to be quite the player.

Imagine Jake O’Brien & Jarrad Branthwaite

After Everton felled the Tricky Trees at the City Ground, talent scout Jacek Kulig lauded another “superb performance” from Branthwaite, saying: “Everton’s biggest jewel. A very complete CB profile for such a young age. Definitely should be on the radar of Gareth Southgate and many TOP European clubs.”

Branthwaite completed a loan spell with PSV Eindhoven last season and has returned to Goodison Park with so much to praise, starting 12 Premier League matches and remarkably averaging 2.1 tackles, 5.1 clearances and 7.4 ball recoveries per game, winning 63% of his duels, as per Sofascore.

[FBCharts] Jarrad Branthwaite

As the chart highlights above, the 6 foot 5 titan is fantastic across all of his defensive metrics but tends to stray away from offensive movements.

That’s okay though, with the notion that all defenders in this modern age of football require ball-playing skills to make Johan Cruyff tip his hat simply untrue – an industrious and iron-solid star such as Branthwaite is perfect in protecting the Toffees goal.

And with the 6 foot 6 O’Brien offering a divergence in traditional style, Dyche’s prospective partnership could work wonders in continuing Everton’s evolution after a period of great turmoil.

The road ahead is rocky, no question, but amid all of the chaos there is a sense that Everton are headed toward greener pastures, and O’Brien would be an excellent addition to the project.

 

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