Photo by James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images

The contrast was night and day, chalk and cheese, the difference between a specialist right-back and a centre-half treading through treacle in an unnatural position.

As Everton’s failure to recruit a right-sided defender in the transfer window was brutally exposed in Saturday’s 3-0 thumping at Aston Villa – Ben Godfrey looking like the squarest of square pegs as he choked on Leon Bailey’s dust – Denzel Dumfries offered a painful reminder of what might have been. 

It’s no secret Everton – and in particular sporting director Marcel Brands – were desperate to sign the former PSV Eindhoven captain in the summer. 

Every Premier League Team’s Best Player Now Vs. 7 Years Ago

Every Premier League Team’s Best Player Now Vs. 7 Years Ago

A couple of stand-out performances at Euro 2020, however, quickly ensured the wider world woke up to the talents of Dumfries – the Rotterdam Cafu, the human express train.  

If only Everton had got a deal signed, sealed and delivered before Dumfries announced himself on the European stage with that thunderous performance against Ukraine two months ago.

Interest from Serie A champions Inter Milan – coupled with growing Financial Fair Play fears at Goodison Park – meant Everton were conspicuous by their absence when Dumfries put pen to paper on a £13 million deal at the San Siro, a hotly anticipated tug-of-war over before it really began. 

Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Will Everton regret losing out on Denzel Dumfries to Inter Milan?

And it’s credit to Dumfries that, after a superb performance in Saturday’s 6-1 thrashing of Bologna, that exasperation at Achraf Hakimi’s departure has been replaced by excitement at the Dutchman’s arrival. 

“I think (Dumfries) had a great match,” head coach Simone Inzaghi said of the 25-year-old, who grabbed his first assist in Inter colours with an inch-perfect cross to Lautaro Martinez (Sempre Inter).  

“He needs to integrate but this has gone faster than we expected. We are satisfied, he had a great match”. 

“What amazed me a little bit was seeing how fast he was,” adds former Juventus midfielder Giancarlo Marocchi.  

While Benitez will be counting down the days until the evergreen Seamus Coleman returns to action, it’s difficult to dispel the notion Dumfries would have been a silver-bullet solution to one of Everton’s biggest problems. 

Photo by Luca Rossini/LiveMedia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In other news, 'We have to sell': Director gives West Ham hope over January target