Humiliated by being subbed as a sub after 18 minutes and benched for a game at Fleetwood – to scoring in a win over Barcelona… Everton flop Moise Kean has restored his reputation as one of Europe’s hottest young strikers at PSG
At just 20 years of age, Moise Kean has already had a rollercoaster of a ride in first-team football.
Take this season as a snapshot. From being benched for a Carabao Cup game at Fleetwood in September to, five months on, netting in the Champions League last-16 at the Nou Camp – the turnaround has been staggering.
A player who cost Everton £24m seems to have finally found his feet on loan at PSG, playing alongside Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Mauro Icardi in attack. He has started 15 times in Ligue 1 so far and his goal tally stands at an impressive 14 in 25 matches in all competitions.
That includes a match-winning double at Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League group-stage, as well as the winner against Nice last weekend and Caen in the French Cup a few days earlier.
Previously for Thomas Tuchel and now for Mauricio Pochettino, Kean is a reliable source of goals. What makes his rich vein in form all the more impressive is how he has reacted to adversity at such a young age.
Upon signing for Everton in the summer of 2019, director of football Marcel Brands insisted the club would ‘look after him’ after a difficult introduction to first-team football at Juventus, primarily due to racist abuse experienced in April 2019 during a match at Cagliari.
However, he went 21 games before his first goal for the Toffees, in a difficult opening few months which included nothing short of a humiliation at Old Trafford.
With the club having dispensed of Marco Silva, club legend Duncan Ferguson took caretaker charge and, with his side battling against Manchester United, he brought on the 19-year-old in the 70th minute.
United soon scored an equaliser and Ferguson – keen to shut up shop – opted to substitute Kean just 18 minutes after he had come on, as they held out for a draw.
Look after him? Four months in, that claim was in tatters.
Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival not long after the Manchester debacle did not trigger Kean’s development. He was still just restricted to just six Premier League starts in his first season, with opportunities mostly coming from the bench.
This season, when in need of a reliable frontman, Ancelotti did not turn to his compatriot.
Instead, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was entrusted with the starting number nine berth. Four goals in two matches to open up the 2020-21 season
However, he did come on to score with a neat finish into the corner. And as the October transfer deadline approached, PSG spotted an opportunity to bring in some cover – and relaunch Kean’s career.
Having signed on a season-long loan he hit the ground running, scoring twice in his second Ligue 1 appearance against Dijon. Rather impressively, in a period from November 28-January 9, the ex-Juve man scored a consistent six goals in eight games.
On Tuesday though, Pochettino gave Kean the ultimate responsibility, starting in a front-three alongside Mbappe and Icardi, in the absence of Neymar, at the Nou Camp.
In the competition which PSG value above all others, the 20-year-old did not look out of place amongst a never-ending lineup of talent on both sides.
His goal, a powerful downward header from a whipped free-kick, was indicative of his knack for being in the right place at the right time. Goal number 14 of his most potent season yet put him above Neymar in PSG’s goalscoring ranks.
In the most unusual of circumstances in a season like no other, Kean has restored his reputation as one of Europe’s hottest young strikers.
For the short-term, there’s no need for worry for the player himself. Kean can continue to thrive under Pochettino at the Parc des Princes, and is likely to pick up a few winners medals along the way.