Alan Stubbs says “dominant” defender Yerry Mina is an ideal fit for Marco Silva’s expansive Everton team.
Centre-half Mina seamlessly bedded into Everton’s back four on his full debut at Chelsea earlier this month, the Colombian claiming man-of-the-match honours for his part in snuffing out the hosts’ array of international forwards in a 0-0 draw.
Mina’s first competitive Goodison Park start qualified as another successful outing for the 24-year-old, with Everton recording a second successive clean sheet to beat Cardiff City 1-0 on Saturday.
He joined Everton on the eve of the new campaign but the twin factors of a foot injury and the impeccable form of Kurt Zouma put Mina’s debut on hold until the trip to Stamford Bridge – where fellow defender Zouma had to sit out the meeting with his parent club.
Former Everton centre-back Stubbs, who played 193 matches across two spells with the Club, had no fears over Mina’s ability to withstand the unique challenges presented by Premier League football.
And he believes the South American’s attributes lend themselves to excelling in a Silva side, where the full-backs are asked to consistently supplement their team’s attacks.
“Yerry has the size and shape to defend strongly in his own box,” Stubbs told evertonfc.com.
“It is not just his physical stature, he looks like a dominant figure on the pitch. He is big and imposing and understands how to apply those qualities.
“And there is more of an onus on one-v-one defending in the Premier League now. The full-backs are very attacking, which means the ability to adapt defensively, and defend positively in one-v-ones and two-v-twos, is vital.
“Everton’s full-backs push into advanced positions and it is a real strength of the side. But your strengths in wide areas can become your weaknesses if the centre-backs are not strong and cannot cover when the full-backs are up the pitch. Mina is very good in those situations.
“I think everyone was looking forward to seeing Yerry in the team, it will have been frustrating for him to wait to play for his new club but it is good for Evertonians to get a glimpse of what the future holds – and good for him to have his chance to show what he can do.”
Mina is in line to feature in his first Merseyside derby on Sunday, when Everton will aim to stretch their unbeaten Premier League run to a fourth match and maintain their hold on a top-six position.
The former Barcelona player has made nine clearances and won eight of his 10 aerial battles in his embryonic Everton career. He boasted the best passing accuracy statistic among his side’s players at Chelsea; in his two full matches Mina has located his target with 85 off his 99 passes [86 per cent].
Manager Silva, though, has confessed the task of selecting two centre-halves from the five at his disposal is the source of a weekly headache.
Zouma played 10 successive matches before red tape ruled him out of the Chelsea game, while Club captain Phil Jagielka and England Under-21 international Mason Holgate are also pushing for action.
Michael Keane has nailed down one of the positions of late and started the past eight Premier League games, helping Everton collect 16 points and record three clean sheets. Indeed, Silva’s side has conceded only six goals in those eight matches.
“Michael is in a good place right now and playing at the top of his game,” said Stubbs.
“Everton seem to be controlling games, which alleviates some of the pressure on the back four.
“The partnership Michael developed with Kurt Zouma was very effective and they developed an understanding of each other’s games.
“But the team is playing consistently well, which is a significant help for players who come in.
“It is much easier to come into a team that is achieving good results and where everyone knows their jobs.”
Mina proved something of a hit around USM Finch Farm and among Evertonians even before he played so much as a minute’s football for the Club.
His larger-than-life personality is matched by an imposing 6ft 4in frame, a considerable asset in opposing penalty areas – as Mina demonstrated when scoring three times in as many games for his country at the summer’s World Cup – and a potentially lethal weapon for Everton.
Even more so with Keane, standing only 2in shorter than his latest defensive partner, adding his substantial presence to the mix at attacking set pieces.
“Yerry and Michael, with their height and power, provide a significant threat in the opposition box,” said Stubbs.
“With the quality of the balls coming into the area from Everton’s set pieces, and the pace they are arriving, if you have height on your side, you only need to apply the slightest touch.
“It is the delivery which makes the goals and both of them have a huge advantage when they are competing for those balls. There are not many central defensive pairings in the Premier League to match Yerry and Michael's for physical stature.
“Yerry had a bit of time to adjust to his new surroundings and it might have helped that he wasn’t thrown in to play after being in the door five minutes.
“He had a chance to understand what the Club is all about and witnessed how Goodison Park is when the team is doing well – that type of settling-in period can really benefit players.”