Over a year on the sidelines following his move from Wigan Athletic in July 2013, Arouna Kone is now becoming a key player in Everton’s push for Europe.
Shoot takes a closer look at the Ivorian striker who scored a hat-trick to sink Sunderland on Sunday.
Where did it all start for Kone?
Kone started his career at Rio Sport d’Anyama, a club based in his hometown of Anyama, Ivory Coast. At the age of 18 he joined Belgian side Lierse S.K, where he finished the 2002/03 season as their top scorer. The striker moved to the Netherlands joining Roda JC, where he enjoyed two high-scoring seasons, reaching double figures in both. Standing at 6ft, the forward is able to compete in the air but also has the pace to get past players, making him a threat and a handful for opposition defenders.
Where did he make a name for himself?
Kone first became known to the fans across Europe in 2005 when he joined PSV, where he scored 11 goals in his first season as well as competing in the Champions League, the world’s most prestigious club competition. In 2007, Spanish side Sevilla signed Kone for a reported fee of €12 million. However, the striker struggled to find the form he had shown in the Dutch Eredivisie and was sent on loan to German club Hannover 96 and Levante. In Spain, the number nine managed to rediscover some goalscoring form scoring 15 times in 34 appearances.
When did he move to England?
In August 2012, then Premier League side Wigan signed Arouna Kone on a three-year-deal. In his first start for the club, he scored an 89th minute goal against Southampton to seal a 2-0 away victory for the Latics. He ended that season with 11 goals in 32 league appearances but was unable to save them from relegation. However, he had announced himself in the most competitive league in the world and won the FA Cup, so his time in the top-flight wasn’t over.
Why has his Everton career taken to long to get started?
Following the relegation of Wigan Athletic, Kone followed manager Roberto Martinez to Everton in a three-year deal in July 2013. In October, having made just a handful of appearances, he suffered a knee cartilage injury which took him out of the game until December 2014. An injury like this is likely to damage the strongest of characters and so this has stunted the growth of his career on Merseyside. He has also had to compete with forwards Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas, Gerard Deulofeu and Stephen Naismith but now playing as a left-wing forward, he is cementing his place in the starting 11.
How has he bounced back?
The Toffees striker his been a revelation this term. On the opening day of the 2015/16 campaign, Kone came off the bench to score and assist a goal in his side’s 2-2 draw to newly promoted Watford. Everton boss Roberto Martinez has since rewarded the Ivorian with more frequent appearances and the 31-year-old striker has repaid that confidence. He has scored five goals and assisted three from the left, in his 11 appearances. If he can keep this level of performance going, he has a big chance of playing his way back into the Ivory Coast set-up.