When Everton paid £9.5 million to sign Argentine defender Ramiro Funes Mori ahead of the transfer deadline, eyebrows were raised by many in the media.
Respected BBC columnist Tim Vickery was the loudest voice to deride the transfer, suggesting Everton had overpaid for a sub-standard defender and criticised Roberto Martinez’s record in the transfer market.
Vickery stated Mori lacked “the quality, the physicality and pace to survive in the Premier League” and that Martinez had a “blind spot” for signings from South America.
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Many others believed Mori would “struggle” to step up to Premier League level and believed his only asset was his ability to speak English, after growing up in Texas after moving at a young age from Argentina.
Everton had been lacking defensive options after letting Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz leave the club and many expected this shortfall to get worse with the ‘inevitable’ sale of John Stones to Chelsea. However, the expectation that Mori was here to provide emergency backup or to replace Stones has proven to be wide of the mark.
With Everton missing up to five defenders during the early stages of the season, and currently still without Leighton Baines and captain Phil Jagielka, Mori has proven to be a top class replacement, winning the Everton player of the month for October after a series of commanding performances.
He has also gone on to form a flourishing partnership with Stones at the heart of the Everton defence and has quickly established himself as a fan favourite.
Indeed his performances –along with those of young defender Brendan Galloway, have given manager Roberto Martinez a genuine selection problem when Jagielka and Baines return to action.
And now, in a recent blog post Vickery has admitted his initial judgement of the player was “unfair” stating: “I was blind to his improvement. I only saw the bad side because that is all I was looking for.”
“Every time he was beaten for pace, played a poor pass out of defence or went to ground to tackle, I chalked it up as a moment that was representative of the player while ignoring all the good things that he was doing," he added.
Two weeks ago against Bournemouth, Mori scored his maiden goal for the club – a commanding header at a corner was Everton’s first strike from a set piece this season.
His Everton career to date just goes to prove you shouldn't write someone off before they get going.