Carlo Ancelotti and Marcel Brands dodged a £13m bullet in Everton’s failed bid to sign Parma striker Joshua Zirkzee on loan from Bayern Munich this January.
According to Sky Sport Germany, all indications currently point to Zirkzee returning to the Allianz Arena at the end of the season after a sobering first few months on loan with Parma.
The Serie A side acquired the 19-year-old during the winter market in a half-season deal which carries a €15m (£13m) option to buy, but are yet to see anywhere near the best of what the Netherlands under-21 international has to offer.
Zirkzee has lived life on the fringes since his arrival at the Stadio Ennio Tardini, with head coach Roberto D’Aversa so far offering a mere 108 minutes of action over four substitute appearances.
Zirkzee is yet to start a match or score a single goal for I Crociati and missed three fixtures with a back injury, to leave his long-term future ‘more open than ever’.
Parma, Bayern and Zirkzee had high hopes for his spell in Italy to prove a success after talks over moves to Everton and Eintracht Frankfurt fell through.
Reports by the Daily Mail in January had claimed that Everton wanted to sign the Dutch forward on loan with a £9m option to buy as Ancelotti sought attacking reinforcements.
Everton’s decision to seemingly reject Bayern Munich’s demands of a £13m option and look toward alternative targets in the winter market has proven to be a bullet dodged, as Zirkzee has been hugely underwhelming for Parma.
Sky Sport Germany add in their report that all the hype surrounding Zirkzee has fallen silent, as his year continues to get worse after starting 2021 by receiving a three-game ban for kicking 1860 Munich goalkeeper Marco Hiller in the face while playing for Bayern’s reserves.
Bayern boss Hansi Flick scolded Zirkzee for his decline in form and actions in Germany, noting: “He’s a great talent, but talent alone isn’t always enough. It’s important to work on yourself.”
Flick was a big advocate of Zirkzee’s potential last season when he broke into the first team fold and offered a key contribution to Bayern’s charge to the Bundesliga title, claiming: “His development has been remarkable. He still has a long way to go, but this is definitely an early reward.”
However, that potential has stagnated to the point of no goals in 13 games across all competitions for Bayern and Parma this season, of which Zirkzee has only started five – four of which came with Bayern’s reserves.
It’s impossible to say how Zirkzee would have fared at Everton if working under Ancelotti in a push for Champions League football rather than with D’Aversa as Parma fight for Serie A survival, but his time in Italy makes the forward appear much more a bullet dodged than a missed opportunity from a Toffees perspective.