Everton’s prolonged and muddled search for a new manager did not smack of a club with a plan but the announcement that they have tied Jonjoe Kenny, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Mason Holgate to new contracts suggests there is at least a clear strategy in place when it comes to the array of young talent at Goodison Park.
Kenny and Holgate both signed deals until June 2022 while Calvert-Lewin agreed a contract to 2023 as the club moved to secure the future of their brightest prospects. “The depth of young talent in our squad is very encouraging,” said the manager, Sam Allardyce. “[It is] a clear sign that we do things right as a club in our development of young players and Mason, Jonjoe and Dominic epitomise what we are trying to accomplish with young players here at Everton.”
In his short time in charge Allardyce has used Holgate, who joined the club from Barnsley two years ago, as a starting centre-back with the England Under-21 international part of a defence which has conceded only one goal in the past four games. The right-back Kenny, who joined the club at nine years old, has also established himself in the first team, impressing defensively and providing a threat in the final third. He captained Everton Under-23s to last season’s Premier League 2 title and the 20-year-old from Kirkdale has played every minute of the team’s past nine Premier League games.
In attack Calvert-Lewin has become a pivotal figure in the absence of Romelu Lukaku, who departed the club for Manchester United in the summer, and recently the 20-year-old signed from Sheffield United has added important goals and assists to his impressive work ethic. “[He] is a really exciting talent, he’s improving all the time and he has the athleticism and attributes to become a top player in his position,” said Allardyce. “Working so closely with a player like Wayne Rooney can’t fail to help him in the role he plays in the team and, collectively, these three players will all have big parts to play here in the years ahead.”
Under the charge of experience talent-spotter Martin Waldron, the former head of schoolboy recruitment, the club’s academy has flourished and proved fruitful for recent first-team managers at Goodison Park with an emphasis on English – and often local – talent. The 19-year-old Liverpudlian midfielder Tom Davies signed a long-term deal in April while Ademola Lookman, the lightning quick 20-year-old winger signed from Charlton for £7.5m in January, recently showed his potential with an impressive display and two goals on the club’s trip to Apollon Limassol.
Everton play Swansea at Goodison Park on Monday night hoping to continue their upturn in form since Allardyce’s arrival, with the club currently 10th in the Premier League.
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