Everton told Yerry Mina he was free to leave the Premier League outfit in the summer transfer window, with The Athletic pointing out his injury record remains a concern at Goodison Park.
As the Toffees suffered their first home defeat of the Rafa Benitez era against West Ham United yesterday, it was an energy-sapping, jet-lagging South American sojourn that left Mina on the sidelines rather than a return to the litany of fitness problems that have dogged his Everton career.
Ben Godfrey and Michael Keane started in the Colombian international’s absence.
And while they held their own – restricting the usually irrepressible Michail Antonio to spectator status during a tense encounter short on clear-cut chances – Mina’s absence was clear to see as Angelo Ogbonna flicked home the winner from a corner with 74 minutes on the clock.
You get the feeling if 6ft 5in Mina had been in the penalty area, Ogbonna wouldn’t have had it quite so easy.
Yerry Mina becoming a key player for Everton under Benitez
Snapped up from Barcelona in a £28 million deal after the 2018 World Cup, Mina has often struggled to live up to his hefty price tag on the blue half of Merseyside.
According to The Athletic, the 27-year-old was told in the summer he was free to find a new club.
Everton were desperate to reduce their crippling wage bill and Mina, one of the club’s highest earners on a reported £120,000 a week, appeared ripe for slaughter, his worrying injury history leaving him – rather than fellow centre-halves Keane or Mason Holgate – in the firing line.
For now, however, the late-blooming man mountain remains an Everton player and, on the evidence of his absence on Sunday afternoon, he’s evolving from a £28 million misfit into a key cog in the Benitez blueprint.