Everton are still in search of their first win of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign as they sit above the relegation zone on goal difference after six games, writes the FFC.
The Toffees have drawn four and lost two of their top-flight matches so far, leaving them 16th in the table, and they face West Ham at Goodison Park in their next outing.
They will have to compete in this game without a key player after a significant injury blow to first-choice goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. He is set to be out of action for around a month with a thigh issue and will miss the clash against the Hammers.
The 28-year-old’s absence leaves Asmir Begovic as the only senior player at Goodison Park in that position, with Andy Lonergan also sidelined with a knock.
The Athletic’s Patrick Boyland has reported that the club have looked at bringing in a shot-stopper on a short-term deal to cover for the England number one, although a signing looks unlikely at this stage.
However, instead of looking at snapping up a veteran out-of-contract goalkeeper, the Toffees should be promoting a player from their youth setup in Zan-Luk Leban.
Frank Lampard could save Farhad Moshiri from needing to bring in a free agent by bringing the youngster into the first-team to cover Begovic in upcoming games – potentially starting if needed.
By doing this, the head coach could also save the club millions next summer by acting as an internal replacement for the Bosnian, whose contract expires in 2023.
Leban emerging as a first-team option could result in him being promoted to the number two role behind Pickford next season and prevent Moshiri from needing to splash out millions – whether that be in transfer fees or wages – to bring in another player.
Boyland previously described the young shot-stopper as “exceptional” and the 6 foot 2 colossus has sufficiently caught the eye to be recognised at club and international level.
Despite not turning 20 until December, he has established himself as Everton’s first-choice in Premier League 2, with five appearances and two clean sheets this season. The gem has also been capped 14 times by Slovenia across various youth levels, which shows that his country believe that he could be a future star.
He played one match (against Morecambe) in the EFL Trophy last season and put in a phenomenal display. The youngster was given a SofaScore rating of 8.3 as he saved all five shots that he faced, made one tackle and won 100% of his duels in the match as he kept a clean sheet.
Lampard must now give the 19-year-old a chance to prove that he can provide that level of performance in Everton’s first team, whether that is with him starting in Pickford’s absence or as cover for Begovic in the meantime.
If Leban is able to make the step up and can establish himself as a serious first-team option for the Toffees, that could prevent the need for a new number two to come in next year, thus saving Moshiri millions.