Everton were right to sell Davy Klaassen to Werder Bremen for a significant loss in 2018, despite Ruud Gullit now claiming that his compatriot was wasted at Goodison Park.
Klaassen moved to Merseyside from AFC Ajax four years ago in £23.6m deal as the priority signing of then-manager Ronald Koeman amid doubts over Ross Barkley’s future, but he would only last the one season in royal blue.
The season had begun with a run of just two wins in nine league games to pave the way for Koeman’s sacking, and the appointment of Sam Allardyce brought with it a style of football unsuited to Klaassen’s talents.
The physicality of the English game also proved an issue for the player named as the 2016 Dutch Footballer of the Year, and saw that he only started three of his seven Premier League outings and never scored for the Toffees before moving to Werder Bremen.
Now back at Ajax, Klaassen is again firing on the front foot and scored his fifth international goal as the Netherlands lost to Turkey in a World Cup qualifier earlier this week. Afterwards, Gullit explained how Everton had failed to get the most from the 28-year-old.
“He’s a [No.] 10. He’s a midfielder who goes all the time in the box. Ajax always played with plenty of people around the box, so it was easy for him,” the Dutch icon said, via quotes shared by the Liverpool Echo.
“There are numerous players from Ajax who went abroad then all of a sudden are in an environment which doesn’t play like that. That is the worst part of it.
“Klaassen went to Everton and found that problem. He came from Ajax, goes to Everton, who don’t play like that. All of a sudden, he’s lost, he doesn’t know what to do, where to come, because he’s not good at the ball and doesn’t do all kinds of tricks, he doesn’t have that.
“Klaassen then went to Germany, played a different role and played well. Now he’s back to Amsterdam and played the same role as he did before and he’s an outstanding player in the national team again and everyone says ‘Ooof!’.”
While Gullit suggests that Everton wasted Klaassen during his year at Goodison Park, the 58-year-old also explained why the Toffees were right to sell the midfielder, even if doing so meant owner Farhad Moshiri had to sanction a £11.6m loss.
Everton wasted a total of £15.6m with the signing and subsequent failure of Klaassen, having awarded him a £70,000-per-week contract which earned the Dutchman £4m in wages over his 58 weeks on Merseyside.
For that money, the Toffees only saw one assist, no goals and 10 starts from 16 appearances in all competitions, while being omitted from 29 matchday squads due to his inability to adapt to either the demands of Koeman and Allardyce or the demands of the English game.
It would have been unsustainable for Moshiri to continue paying Klaassen so lucratively for that return, knowing that a second season at the same level – or worse – would have meant his market value decreasing more than the near 50% it already had.
Everton simply had to bite the bullet with Klaassen when they did and accept that he may go on to rediscover his form in a system more to his suiting, as – like Gullit claims – the Premier League and the tactics used at Goodison Park were not set up for him to excel.
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