It has been almost a year since Moise Kean joined Everton, a signing which sparked excitement in the blue half of Merseyside.
The second youngest goalscorer in Italian national team history, his time at Juventus placed a lot of expectation on the Italian starlet's shoulders. Eight goals for the Italian champions in 21 games, two goals in two Italy internationals. All as a teenager.
His debut season in England didn't go to plan, ending with just two goals in 33 (25 from the bench) appearances for Everton. Before the final day – everyone knows only 'troubled strikers' score on the last day – against Bournemouth, that was one in 32. He finished level on goals with, among others, centre-backs Michael Keane and Yerry Mina.
He has finished one season with fewer goals, though. His 2016/17 season, during which he turned 17, brought just one senior goal – but in mitigation, he played 24 minutes in that campaign. In 2019/20, he played 1,024.
The questions about whether he peaked at 18 aren't new; they're apparently what turned Manchester United, among other clubs, off signing him.
None of this is the end of the world for a player who's moved to a new country as a teenager and had to settle into a chaotic team with two (and a half) managers.and there are two incidents which cast a little more light on why things might go better under the stewardship of his countryman Carlo Ancelotti.
In November, despite travelling to Southampton for a Premier League game, the Italian was dropped from the squad for disciplinary issues by Marco Silva, who left him out of the final matchday squad after he was late to a team meeting for a second time.
One month later, Kean came off the bench against Manchester United – but stayed on the pitch for just 18 minutes before interim manager Duncan Ferguson took him off just before full time.
70’ ⏱️ Moise Kean subbed on ➡️— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) December 15, 2019
88’ ⏱️ Moise Kean subbed off ⬅️
Was Duncan Ferguson unfair to substitute the young striker off after just 18 minutes? ? pic.twitter.com/92E04Hzy2R
Those incidents both came under different managers, the former sacked with the Toffees down in 18th. That feud came with a man who sunk Everton into the relegation zone, a far cry from the team that was sold to Kean when tempting him over. The Ferguson incident? Rough.but rough from a man who was only ever in interim charge.
With Carlo Ancelotti now at the helm, things are looking up for Everton and Kean.
Ancelotti has already spoken kindly of Kean, telling the club’s official website: “Of course, he is a player we need to give support to, because he is young. He came here from Italy, so it was a new adaptation for him, a new country. But this season can give him more experience and more knowledge. He will be better and play more next season.”
Kean had to play under three different managers in his first season, a far from settling start to life at Goodison Park. Throughout his whole time at Juventus, Kean had the stability of Massimiliano Allegri to work with - arguably the man who played the biggest part in developing him into the player he is today.
He was, essentially, a bought for the player he can become rather than the player he is right now. While he doesn't look like he'll guide Everton towards European football next season, that is not his responsibility - yet. The Toffees should be able to turn to senior players like Gylfi Sigurdsson, or even emerging talents such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.
For all his criticism and slander, many seem to forget that Kean is just 20 years old.
The fact that his contract runs until 2024 proves that he's a long-term investment, one for the future. He will continue to develop and grow as a player - especially under the guidance of Ancelotti - and can become a force to be reckoned with. Kids turning up in the Premier League with the weight of big fees, coming into unstable teams, are very rarely good straight away.
To accomplish what he is capable of, Kean needs time, faith and patience.
Those three factors are what he - and any young player - needs to truly prove their worth. Time is easy, he's one year into a five-year contract. Ancelotti is showing some small amount of faith by keeping the substitute appearances ticking over, although Kean got just one start (on the final day, with nothing to play for) in 14 games from February onwards.
The patience comes from every corner of the club: the players, the management and the fans. Just as any player, Kean deserves the full support and backing of everyone at the club, who need to show him that they believe in him.
No doubt this summer will be one of mild to moderate upheaval at Goodison – when aren't they – but whatever happens, Kean shouldn't go anywhere. Patience is a virtue, and Everton will benefit from the fruits of their labour if they place their trust in the Italian starlet.