What to say about Oumar Niasse.
I’m really rather fond of him, but he’s one of those that also gets my back up a little bit. How can you wriggle through three defenders with ease and next to no space, but balls up a five-yard pass?
There have been frustrating Cardiff players in the recent past. Sammy Ameobi had remarkable technique and none of the stamina. Lex Immers could be lethal on any given day, or whatever the opposite of lethal is on another. Niasse may trump them all though.
I appreciate that if Niasse was the full package, he wouldn’t be playing for Cardiff City, but while we have him, it’s natural to want the best Niasse we can possibly get. He is, after all, carrying a heavy burden out there; to bag the goals that will maintain Cardiff’s top flight status.
Playing up top for Cardiff is a thankless task too. Just ask Fraizer Campbell. There is often such a gap between midfield and attack that you end up covering a whole half on your own.
Niasse had everyone eating out of his hand from the off. The promotional picture from his unveiling saw him in full wild, jester mode, in a way you don’t expect from a loan signing. It boded well and his performances have largely followed suit.
He is a grafter and never gives up, qualities that surely appealed to Neil Warnock. He may not have offered much in the way of goal threat to date, but he certainly plays his part and Cardiff look a better side with him in it.
Yet to get off the mark, Niasse may never get a better chance than when he was put clean through on goal against West Ham. Baring down on goal, he did not fill you with confidence in the way that Kenneth Zohore probably would and I’m still at a loss to explain how he actually missed. He seemed to scuff it in to the ground and somehow bundle it wide of the near post. Fortunately, it didn’t matter.
He looked far from the striker that plundered 24 goals in 40 games for Lokamotiv Moscow during the 2015/16 season, earning him a high-profile, £16m move to Everton in the process.
The last goal Niasse scored was on the final day of last season, but only made five substitute appearances for Everton this term. His return of nine goals in 10 starts, emerging from the bench a further 16 times, represented a decent return. So too did his five goals in 13 games on loan at Hull the season before.
They represent the sort of returns that Cardiff would have been hoping for and would make a world of difference to Cardiff’s chances of staying up. It’s unlikely that he has a future at Everton, so he is very much in the shop window at present and the option of a permanent move to South Wales is very much riding on it too.
There remains plenty of good faith out there for Niasse at present, but you wonder if that will last if his barren spell were to coincide with another bumpy run of Cardiff form. He may never have a better chance to become a hero, but for now he remains an enigma wrapped in a riddle.