AGE will not be a bar to Arouna Kone making a success of his Everton career if, as expected, the Ivory Coast international completes a £6.5m switch from Wigan.
After a previously acknowledged transfer policy which focused on recruiting younger players with potential sell-on value – with a handful of notable exceptions – some fans have raised eyebrows at the Toffees spending a significant sum on a striker who turns 30 in November.
But manager Roberto Martinez, who brought Kone to England last summer and has followed his career for many years, has no age concerns.
“Arouna had a big injury to his cruciate and missed one and a half years. That can sometimes be negative, but in his case it was the opposite.
“It refreshed him and he is a young 29-year- old,” said the Blues boss.
“He’s at the peak of his career.
“When you get a player where from the physical point of view, to the tactical and the technical he is in peak condition, it really excites you and that’s where Arouna is.
“He had a fantastic move from Holland to Seville for big, big money where he had a little bit of trouble with inconsistency and injuries, but now he is back to his very, very best and he will be a big asset.
“Everyone would understand that he brings something different to what we have at the football club at the moment.”
As talks continue with Wigan Martinez stressed: “Nothing has been confirmed with Arouna.
“But it has been made public that we have made an approach and we’re still dealing with it.”
But he insisted that if the negotiations are successfully completed the Blues would be recruiting a “complete striker” who would increase competition for places in a crucial department of the team.
“He’s a very complete striker,” he added.
“You don’t get many foreign strikers who come to this league and settle in straight away and be consistent over a season, but Arouna did that.
“He’s powerful, his play with his back to the game is very strong, he links up really well, he can see a pass in the final third and he is a clinical finisher.
“All in all he is a very rounded footballer. He is experienced.
“He has been in Germany, been in Holland, in Spain and he has been top goalscorer in many countries.
“Now he is competing for the Ivory Coast and we all know that they always produce outstanding strikers so he is a little bit of a combination, but I would say that he is a very experienced footballer.”
Martinez also added that Kone’s experience at Goodison Park in March, when a Wigan team which had just comprehensively ended Everton’s Wembley ambitions was warmly applauded off the pitch, was a contributory factor in the striker wanting to join the Blues.
“I think he was impressed with Goodison Park,” added Martinez.
“His experience playing as an away player is something that gave him a great feeling and he was impressed – it was something that hasn’t happened to him too often.”
Kone’s imminent arrival casts some doubt on Nikica Jelavic’s future, after the Croatian endured a classic case of second season syndrome following his explosive introduction from Rangers.
But Martinez refused to say whether the Ivorian would be a complement or a replacement for the Croat.
“I’m not looking into it that deeply,” he said.
“At this stage of the season what I want is to have the strongest possible squad.
“I think we need four players – one per position –and that’s not looking at players or individuals at the moment, that’s just to start the work in pre-season, allow that competition that we need and then just to be aware that we need to go into every competition to win.
“When we go into the League Cup we expect to have a strong squad, the FA Cup the same and also the League. And that’s looking at the youngsters as well.
“I want to get the strongest possible squad.
“That’s not looking at any individuals. Good players can always play together – and good players are needed.
“I followed Arouna for many years before we managed to work together and I thought his introduction into the Premier League was impressive.
“He will be a massive asset to the dressing room on the understanding that we have quite a few good strikers at the club already.
“All we want is to be stronger after every window and that’s what we are going to try to do.”