Brands’ regret: Everton missed the boat with “amazing” potential Baines successor – opinion

Everton Director of soccer Marcel Brands will be regretting his failure to sign Solly March this summer after missing the boat with Brighton & Hove Albion’s rejuvenated ace.

What’s the word?

According to TEAMtalk, March could be in line for a surprise call-up to England’s senior squad for their upcoming internationals after impressing Gareth Southgate this term.

The Three Lions are enduring a crisis at left-back with Kieran Trippier and Ainsley Maitland-Niles relied on to play out of position recently, but Southgate could turn to Brighton after being impressed by March’s efforts in the opening weeks of the season.

March has previously featured in a wide midfield role at Under 20s and U21s levels, yet has injected a new spark to his career at full-back after Albion failed to sign a new wide defender in the summer market and left boss Graham Potter seeking alternatives.

Potter was delighted with March’s performance in the role against Manchester United in September, when the 26-year-old struck home an initial equaliser five-minutes into stoppage-time, noting via The Argus: “I thought he was amazing, to be honest.

“His performance was one I think everybody knows or understands is there from Solly. The challenge is to get it out of him more. That’s not necessarily his challenge alone, it’s all of us.

“I thought he was fantastic, that’s why I was so pleased not only with the equalising goal but that it was him scoring.”

TEAMtalk add that March’s form is believed to have sparked Seagulls chiefs to also consider handing their academy graduate a new contract with his current deal set to expire in 2022, marking a vast turn around for the Eastbourne-born talent.

March’s career was said to have been at a crossroads in January having enjoyed the high-points in 2017, when he struck the goal which sealed Albion’s promotion to the Premier League, but now needed to re-establish himself after undergoing groin surgery last year.

He ended the campaign with sporadic roles in Potter’s plans, though, and Brighton were thought to be ready to sell this summer after previous murmurs of interest from Arsenal, RB Leipzig, Newcastle United and Everton.

Yet the new season has shown March to have found his new calling with seven starts from seven at left-back in the Premier League, and showing Brands what he missed this summer.

Missed the boat

Everton found themselves weakened at left-back this summer by Leighton Baines’ decision to retire aged 35, having opted against signing a new one-year contract after 12-months as a back-up making just four top-flight starts.

The decision left Carlo Ancelotti with Lucas Digne and 20-year-old summer arrival Niels Nkounkou as his only senior options, and could have benefited vastly from March’s experience against Newcastle last time out with Digne suspended.

Nkounkou made his Premier League debut at St. James’ Park but struggled up against Callum Wilson, with the former Olympique de Marseille talent dribbled past on three occasions, lost seven of his 12 ground duels, turned over possession 11 times and delivered one accurate cross from four attempts, per SofaScore, before being replaced in the 69th-minute.

March, meanwhile, has only been dribbled past 0.6 times per top-flight appearance this term, and registers 2.1 tackles, 1.4 key balls, 1.0 accurate crosses, 0.9 interceptions and 0.6 shots while completing 79% of his passes.

With March now in line for a new contract and a potential senior international call-up, Everton’s chance to sign the 26-year-old on the cheap has likely sailed into the past.

AND in other news, Carlo Ancelotti’s injury blow comes as a timely boost for an “important” Marco Silva signing’s Everton career.

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