At times Moise Kean plays like heís on the brink of the spectacular. There are the explosive runs, the quicksilver turns, the venomous shots.
At others heís on the brink of mediocrity. A flick to nobody here, a lacklustre first touch there.
So, on a rare Premier League start at the London Stadium against West Ham United, replacing arguably Evertonís best player in the injured Richarlison, which did we see from the £25 million man? The star in the making, or the player Juventus didnít value enough to insist on a buy-back clause when he moved to Goodison in the summer?
The Athletic watched his every moveÖ
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(Photo: Tony McArdle /Everton FC via Getty Images)
Warm-up: The 19-year-old can sometimes appear shy in person, with a touch of adolescent angst in his brooding demeanour. But he is popular among team-mates and, with his English steadily improving after being ordered to step-up his lessons by then-manager Marco Silva, he seems to converse more freely with them. Kean chats to Fabian Delph during Evertonís preparations on the pitch.
New boss Carlo Ancelotti had instructed his forward players to carry out a standard shooting drill; laying the ball off, receiving a pass and attempting to score past reserve goalkeeper Jonas Lossl. Itís usually a good time for strikers to get any bad touches or wayward shots out of the system and get their eye in. Kean hits the post with his first effort, sees the next two tame shots saved, then scores despite a heavy touch, drilling the ball low to Losslís left. His next attempt flies past the post ó he smashes each shot rather than trying to place them ó and then yet another is saved. While others switch feet, Kean uses only his right, shifting the ball from his left foot even when it slows him down.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin fares better but Tom Davies and Bernard are equally unconvincing. No wonder Everton would go on to have just three shots on target all game.
On his way back to the dressing room, Kean spots a stray ball and pounces on it; flicking it into the air and trying some step-overs. It is endearing; a flash of boyish enthusiasm.
One minute: Kean tries to control a forward ball from Delph on his chest but it cannons away from him. Chasing it, he is bundled over by the nearest West Ham player and manages to win a free-kick. Blushes averted.
Kean is playing on the left of a strike partnership with Calvert-Lewin, in an increasingly familiar 4-4-2. He is up against it physically being marked by powerhouse centre-back Issa Diop but uses space cleverly and takes up positions between the lines to try to tempt the Frenchman to follow him.
Six minutes: He sprints down the channel and holds up a long ball, using his own strength impressively to win a throw-in off Angelo Ogbonna. The two exchange brief friendly words (they were at Juventus at the same time).
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(Photo: James Griffiths/West Ham United FC via Getty Images)
Kean is growing into the game. Everton start poorly overall and are sloppy in possession, but he is one of their brighter performers.
16 minutes: Hereís the promising Moise Kean. He takes an immaculate first touch, turns fluidly and zips down the centre of the pitch. The field is opening for him and West Ham are caught flat-footed. He could take it on alone but looks for Calvert-Lewin, who is making a supporting run. His unselfish lay-off, though, is a touch behind the striker and the move breaks down. That could have been excellent.
21 minutes: They are trying to make this forward partnership work but it lacks the understanding Calvert-Lewin has built up with Richarlison. Kean flails his arms in frustration when he makes a clever run into space as Everton break but Calvert-Lewin canít find him with his pass.
30 minutes: Theo Walcott has Evertonís first shot of the game (they only manage three in the first half).
41 minutes: Everton appear to have reverted to zonal marking again under Ancelotti. From set pieces, Kean takes up an area at the back post that Diop frequents. A West Ham free kick is whipped in and Kean loses the defender, who scores the opening goal with a stooping header.
44 minutes: The excellent Mason Holgate flicks on Lucas Digneís corner and Calvert-Lewin heads his ninth Premier League goal of the season from close range. Heís developing a healthy knack of being in the right place at the right time. Kean runs over to celebrate with him.
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(Photo: Tony McArdle /Everton FC via Getty Images)
Calvert-Lewin cost a fraction of what Everton paid for Kean, just £1.6 million from Sheffield United in July 2016. But it is perhaps unfair to compare them too closely. Calvert-Lewin arriving from Bramall Lane via lower-league loan spells at Stalybridge Celtic and Northampton Town, also took time to adapt to the Premier League, scoring only one top-flight goal in his first season and just four in his second.
63 minutes: The front two are still trying to make it click. Kean lets a Digne pass run through his legs as a dummy so Calvert-Lewin can collect, but the latter isnít on the same wavelength. This is their first game as a pair and, if Richarlison shakes off his knee problem in time for Tuesdayís home game against Newcastle United, it may be their last for a while but both are gamely attempting to spark.
69 minutes: Kean is tiring. The teenager loses a 50-50 with 35-year-old Pablo Zabaleta and West Ham break. The last time he started for Everton, away to Newcastle on December 28, he only lasted 61 minutes, so this is an improvement in what is certainly a transitional campaign. He only played for longer than this in four Serie A games last season, completing the 90 minutes just three times.
74 minutes: The board goes up. Keanís afternoon is over. Heís had no shots, made 14 fewer passes than Calvert-Lewin and had 11 fewer touches of the ball (though Calvert-Lewin did play the whole game). Given most of the team are more used to Calvert-Lewinís movements itís not damning, but thatís 738 minutes without a goal in English football now.
Kean is replaced by Oumar Niasse. The 29-year-old is a cultÖ well, not quite hero; a player regarded affectionately by Evertonians, who is indulged for his travails, Ronald Koeman having rather unnecessarily depriving him of a locker in 2016 and his hard-running cameos. Ancelotti wants to sell him and you can see why because his touch remains erratic. The Senegalese is part of Evertonís past.
Post-match: Kean may yet be a big part of Evertonís future and their senior players havenít lost faith. ďItís so difficult because Iíve seen people question his attitude and things like that,Ē captain Seamus Coleman tells The Athletic. ďHeís a 19-year-old boy thatís come from Italy to a new country. Heís working ever so hard every day in training. He is trying.
ďYou do see it in so many players ó it does take time to settle in and Iím just hoping thatíll be the case. But in training youíll see moments of magic. You will see it (in matches, too). Today in the first half there were times when he looked to be in trouble but, like all strikers, I think they need goals. I think he just needs to get that first goal and then hopefully it will work.
ďWhen youíve got two people up there, Dominic as well beside him, the chances should come more, so Iím just hoping it will come for him. Iíve no questions over his attitude. Heís a really good boy.
ďIt probably takes time to adjust and youíve probably seen in the past with players like Gerard Deulofeu. Theyíre explosive players. After one or two sprints they might have to go on their knees for a few seconds or so. Whereas maybe Iím not as fast, so I can go up and down a bit more but Iím not as explosive.
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(Photo: Jacques Feeney/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
ďBut I think when he gets up to speed with the Premier League and gets his goal, itíll breed confidence. You can see Mason Holgate and Dominic out there playing with confidence.
ďWhat is confidence? Well, when you have it, youíre a different player.Ē
(Top photo: Tony McArdle /Everton FC via Getty Images)