Ademola Lookman’s shocked expression after netting just moments into his Everton debut told you everything you needed to know about a whirlwind beginning to life as a Blue for the youngster.
Sliding on his knees in front of Gwladys Street End after bagging the fourth goal in a 4-0 romp over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Lookman seemed like a starlet on cloud nine.
Since that bright January day 12 months ago, however, his Toffees career hasn’t taken off in the manner in which many had hoped.
Now, three managers and a year on from his £11m move from Charlton Athletic, the forward may be on the way out of Goodison Park on a six-month loan deal as Sam Allardyce looks to get him the regular minutes he needs to develop his all-round game.
Except it need not take a temporary spell away from Merseyside for Lookman to learn his trade at first-team level.
There’s no reason he cannot do so on the hallowed turf of the Grand Old Lady.
With the departures of veteran wingers Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon this month, the Blues have been shorn of two wide options, some much needed pace on the flanks and tricky customers who can unlock the tightest of defences.
Theo Walcott’s arrival will offset Lennon’s Burnley move but, the ex-Gunner aside, Everton are really lacking in an area of the field that Lookman could thrive in.
Yannick Bolasie is still way off finding his match sharpness and best form since his return from a year on the sidelines with a cruciate knee ligament injury, Gylfi Sigurdsson’s best work is conducted in the centre of the pitch and not on the left wing and Nikola Vlasic has only showed his quality in flashes since his £10m switch last summer.
If Everton are seriously considering letting Ademola Lookman go out on loan then I must be missing something - given Everton a completely different look when come on as a sub. Maybe not impressing in training, otherwise offers pace & width to a side without pace and width.— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) January 25, 2018
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Lookman, then, should be primed for further opportunities in the senior side and prove he can cut it at this level.
Why should Allardyce look to ship him out on loan when the 20-year-old’s talents can be utilised by the 63-year-old in the Premier League?
True, Lookman is still raw in terms of playing top flight football and will have as many poor games as he has excellent ones, but he has more than deserved a chance to impress.
A two-goal salvo in the 3-0 Europa League dead rubber against Apollon Limassol, coupled with a heartening substitute appearances against Liverpool in the FA Cup earlier this month, show he has the desire, quality and unpredictability to cause problems for opposition defences.
And yet that’s all Evertonians have seen of him since an 11-minute cameo in the 3-1 win over Swansea on 18th December. Why? Only Allardyce, his staff and Lookman will know exactly.
Everton are in need of pace, width, end product and flair to help get them out of this malaise they currently lie in.
If anyone has those qualities in abundance, it’s Lookman. Give him a chance, Sam.