Belgium international Amadou Onana has signed for Everton from LOSC Lille for an undisclosed fee, agreeing a five-year contract until the end of June 2027.
The 20-year-old central midfielder – considered one of Europe’s most exciting talents – becomes the Blues’ fifth signing of the summer following the arrivals of defenders James Tarkowski and Rúben Vinagre, forward Dwight McNeil and centre-back Conor Coady.
Powerful, fast, technically skilled and with the ability to be used in a range of central-midfield roles, Onana revealed the chance to play for manager Frank Lampard, passionate Evertonians and ‘one of the biggest clubs in England’ were key to him committing his long-term future to Everton.
“It feels great to join Everton. I know it’s a big, big club, one of the biggest in England,” Onana told evertontv. “It’s something I want to be part of for many years.
“Everyone here showed they really wanted me and they have a plan for me, so I really appreciated the talks I had with the manager and Director of Football [Kevin Thelwell]. They told me how they wanted me to play and I enjoyed it.
“They both have a lot of ambition and that’s the type of guy I am so it matches.
“The manager was one of the big reasons. He played at the highest level, won many things and was a midfielder, too. It means a lot to have interest from him and I think he can teach me many things.
“The Everton fans are amazing. I saw their support last season and it’s also one of the reasons why I chose Everton. I am looking forward to meeting them at Goodison and, just hearing about the atmosphere, I get goosebumps.
“Blue is my favourite colour, too! I am going to give everything for the Club and our supporters.”
Born in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, Onana’s path to Goodison was routed through Brussels, playing his youth football with Anderlecht, RWS Bruxelles, and Zulte Waregem before signing with German club Hoffenheim in July 2018.
After impressing there and during a season with Hamburg, Everton’s new number eight joined Lille last summer and caught the eye in France, making 42 appearances across all competitions, including eight in the Champions League.
Having played through Belgium’s age groups – including captaining the Under-21s - Onana’s progress led to him earning his senior international cap against the Netherlands in June.
“I think I can play every position in centre midfield, whether that’s as a holding midfielder or a box-to-box as a number eight. That said, wherever the manager needs me, I will play there,” added Onana.
“I chose the number eight shirt because I am a big fan of Kobe Bryant. His work ethic and the way he was inspired me so I’m happy to have that number at Everton.
“I’m just excited to be on the pitch and show what I can do and help the team as much as I can.”
Everton Director of Football, Kevin Thelwell, said: “We are delighted to complete the signing of Amadou and for him to commit his long-term future to Everton.
“He is one of the most sought-after young midfielders in Europe for a reason and has many attributes to benefit our squad. We are confident he can be a popular player with Evertonians for many years to come.
Manager Lampard added: “Amadou is a player we were really keen to bring to Everton. He has many great qualities to help strengthen our midfield and, at just 20-years-old, has massive potential to get even better.
“I spoke to him about why Everton was the right club for him and we’re all looking forward to him showing what he can bring to the team.”
New signing Amadou Onana has chosen to wear Everton’s number eight shirt – and has revealed the basketball legend who inspired his selection.
The late Kobe Bryant is one of Onana’s sporting idols, with the LA Lakers great having worn the number for the first 10 years of his pro career before switching to 24 – the number Onana donned at Lille and previously at Hamburg.
Bryant’s legacy at LA Lakers is underlined by the fact the eight and 24 jerseys have been retired by the franchise in his honour.
On the responsibility of wearing number eight for Everton, Onana said: “Yes, it’s a big number. It’s a heavy one.
“The history behind it is that I am a big, big fan of Kobe Bryant. His work ethic and the way he was [inspired me].
“I’ve wore his numbers [in the past]…the 24 I had before and now the number eight, so I am happy to have that number for Everton.”
Fabian Delph was the latest Everton player to wear number eight.
During the Premier League era, the likes of Paul Rideout, Graham Stuart, Tomasz Radzinski, Ross Barkley and Andy Johnson have donned the shirt.