Not many players have been subject to as much bad luck as Jean-Philippe Gbamin has over the past two years.
There was a distinct amount of excitement among Everton fans when the midfielder made the move from Mainz in August 2019, as supporters were intrigued about how the Ivory Coast international would go about stepping into Idrissa Gueye’s position in the side.
However, it didn’t take long for the injury problems that would go on to plague his entire Blues career up to this point to take hold.
A thigh issue picked up in training ahead of Everton’s third game of 2019/20 eventually kept Gbamin on the sidelines until the squad were back in training following the enforced break due to the pandemic.
Just as a return seemed to be getting nearer, the midfielder suffered an Achilles problem at Finch Farm which kept him out of action until April 2021.
And then, after finally making his return to the pitch after 20 months out, a training ground collision saw him miss the rest of last season with a knee injury.
In one stroke of better luck, Gbamin at least didn’t need surgery on that latter problem – and now looks to be nearing a return once more.
On Sunday evening the midfielder took to Instagram to provide a brief update to supporters on his condition, providing a selection of pictures of him working hard in the gym during this summer break.
At the beginning of July the rest of the Everton squad will be back at Finch Farm to prepare for the 2021/22 campaign, and it’s yet to become apparent whether the Ivory Coast star will be with his teammates from day one.
That was the initial aim after it was confirmed his knee injury would not require surgery, and his latest Instagram post would point to the fact that it could well be a possibility.
If so, it would provide Gbamin with an opportunity at a fresh start that he hasn’t yet had in his two years at Everton.
When the 25-year-old first made the move to Goodison Park in 2019, he joined the club the day before their final pre-season match of the summer – a 0-0 draw with Werder Bremen in Germany.
The following weekend the Premier League campaign was underway, with the midfielder eventually needed to step into action in the second half of a goalless match against Crystal Palace.
Without a lot of time under his belt to train with his new teammates or get settled into his surroundings, it wouldn’t have been easy for Gbamin – but he knuckled down to the task at hand before picking up his first injury.
Since that point the former Mainz man has been constantly battling back from separate injury issues, seeing almost two full seasons slip by as setbacks kept creeping up.
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However this time could prove different.
This is the first time since Gbamin made the move to Merseyside that he could be available for a whole pre-season with his new side, having been injured for last year’s preparations for the 2020/21 campaign.
The opportunity to come back to Finch Farm with the rest of his teammates and instantly work on the same schedule, even starting from a similar base, could be exactly what the midfielder needs.
And of course there’s another aspect of the club which will make it a fresh start for everyone, not just the man returning from injury.
A new manager will be taking over pre-season preparations next month and will be instantly casting a close eye on the squad to see where improvements can be made.
Gbamin clearly impressed Ancelotti in the brief time that he had with the Italian, with the now-Real Madrid boss remarking in April: “He is a good guy. He is calm and focused. He has all the qualities – technically and physically – of a top midfielder.”
If the Ivory Coast international can hit the ground running in a similar manner in training under a new boss, he could finally have the chance to achieve the job he was initially brought to the club to do.
Everton still need an out-and-out defensive midfielder, and the 25-year-old could be the man to fill that gap – as long as his run of bad luck has come to an end.
He won’t be getting ahead of himself after the two years he’s had, but there is still a unique potential opportunity facing Gbamin in the coming weeks.
If he is back from the start of pre-season, then this could be the fresh start he needs.