Niasse Aiming To Come Back Firing

by Paul McNamara
@Everton

Oumar Niasse is confident a first full pre-season with Everton will prove the catalyst for a prolific 2018/19.

Striker Niasse hit the target eight times in just 10 top-flight starts last term after making his first-team return amid a blaze of goals back in September.

The 28-year-old, who joined Everton from Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow in February 2016, struck from the bench in a Carabao Cup tie with Sunderland before coming on as a substitute to blast a match-winning double against Bournemouth three days later.

Niasse made 25 appearances in all competitions and signed off for the summer with a beautifully-taken goal to cap a characteristically energetic and purposeful display at West Ham United.

His performance against the Hammers was even more impressive for the fact Niasse had been restricted to 88 minutes of action in the near-three months since his previous start at Watford in February.

And the Senegalese insists a sustained period of preparation can help his bid to establish himself as a key figure in Everton’s forward line next term.

“It was the second season in a row I did not have a pre-season, which was very difficult – any player will tell you it is complicated if you do not have a pre-season,” Niasse told evertonfc.com.

“As a professional I fight to be ready every time. If I have a pre-season then I know I can do much better than I did last season.

"Like a professional, I will be ready for everything. The most important thing is to keep fighting and that is what I did until the end of the season.

“Next season I want to be ready from the beginning. The goal at West Ham was my eighth in the 10 Premier League games I started. 

“Whenever I get a chance, when I play a number of games in a row and have a pre-season, people will see, as a striker, I know how to score goals. It is on me to do that when I play in the team.

“I do not make excuses. I just play my games and do things the way I know how to do them.

“And I know, if I am fit and have a lot of games in a row and the confidence of the people at Everton, I can score more than I did last season.”

Niasse was paired in attack with January signing Cenk Tosun at West Ham – a departure from the lone forward role he has primarily occupied when called on to start for Everton.

Turkey international Tosun found the net five times in 12 starts following his transfer from Besiktas in his homeland – the 26-year-old’s goals contributing to victories over Brighton & Hove Albion, Stoke City and Huddersfield Town as Everton moved up to eighth in the table.

Niasse, who also linked promisingly with winger Theo Walcott in the season-ending game at the London Stadium, admits he is impressed with the assured way Tosun is adapting to English football.

And he insists Everton will be fixing their sights on bettering last term’s eighth spot when the new campaign kicks off in August.

“It was a difficult season: we finished eighth, which was not what we were aiming for," said Niasse. “But we had a lot of new players who needed to settle in and, with the way the season went, our finishing position was not bad.

"In the dressing room people understand each other and the players are good, which means a lot because togetherness in a football team is very important.

“Everyone can talk about fighting on the pitch but in the dressing room we keep the same mentality. And next season we will try to do better than we did in this one.

"Cenk is a good player and I enjoy playing with another striker because it gives you more opportunity to run behind or come to feet.

“He can hold the ball and is good technically. I can always use my power to run beyond defenders, or to get the ball at my feet and wait for my strike partner to run.

“But it is not up to me to decide how the team plays. As a professional, you have to be ready for anything.”

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