James Tarkowski has applauded Neal Maupay following the social media abuse he received following Everton’s opener against Fulham.
Speaking to The Times, the Toffees vice-captain named Maupay has been ‘the most impressive’ during pre-season after a poor start to the campaign for the striker.
Maupay joined from Brighton & Hove Albion for £15 million last summer and has since come under a lot of criticism, scoring only one goal in 29 appearances in the Premier League.
Everton’s lack of options up front has meant the Frenchman has arguably picked up more game-time than he has deserved, starting their opening day clash with Fulham.
Maupay missed a number of chances as they were narrowly beaten on home turf, leading to a flurry of abuse on social media.
While both the club and supporters condemned such attitude to one of their players, Tarkowski has now publicly backed the forward and has revealed that his pre-season campaign shows he deserves to be in the starting line-up.
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“I messaged Neal after it,” Tarkowski said, when asked about the online abuse.
“He’s been one of the best players throughout pre-season, the most impressive for me in terms of fitness levels, the demands he has put on himself. He deserves to play for us.
“People throw out a lot of opinions on social media, they can say you’re a good player, bad player, that’s up to them, that’s fine, but it is getting to the point where it’s well over the line. What happened to Neal is totally ridiculous.”
Maupay was dropped to the bench for Everton’s visit to Villa Park at the weekend and wasn’t even chosen to replace Dominic Calvert-Lewin when he was forced off with an injury in the first half.
The England international’s absence may offer Maupay another chance, though his opportunities will certainly be limited if Everton sign Che Adams.