Everton ready to nurture the next generation

Alex Livesey

Everton have always prided themselves on their thriving youth system and in Roberto Martinez we may just have the perfect boss to aid the current generation’s development

Martinez believes Everton’s youth sides are bursting with potential and has confirmed a number of talented teens will get their chance in the first-team next season.

The boss was speaking after the under-21 side reached the quarterfinals of the FA Youth Cup with a 2-0 win away at Sheffield United on Monday.

Wayne Rooney is obviously the jewel in the crown over the past decade, (though Ross Barkley may just usurp him in the coming years) but dozens of players have gone on to have successful football careers.

First-team stalwarts Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert as well as striker Francis Jeffers were members of the 1998 FA Youth Cup winning side. By that stage Michael Ball and Richard Dunne had already made his senior debuts and would go on to be a regular top-flight players for more than a decade.

More recent graduates include Victor Anichebe and Jack Rodwell, both of whom have earned international recognition.

Though the likes of Danny Cadamarteri, Peter Clarke, James Vaughan, Gavin McCann and Jose Baxter failed to earn a regular spot in the Everton team, they have carved out promising careers in the lower leagues.

Everton give their youth a chance; unlike other academies who hoard players before stunting their progress in the reserves.

That has earned the club a sound reputation that attracts promising young players to Merseyside.

One of those is George Green, who signed from Bradford two years ago aged 15, turning down Tottenham in the process.

Spurs reportedly offered more money, but Everton’s clear path the first-team – unlike a club that appears to collect average foreign midfielders – saw Green sign on at Finch Farm.

Now 18, Green is one of the stars of the current under-21 side, notching four goals in their youth cup run so far.

He and midfield partner Ryan Ledson appear to be at the head of the queue when it comes to earning a senior bow. And with Martinez at the helm we can be sure they will be given every possible opportunity:

"They are a very talented generation and I want to create a real competitive edge in every position at the club.

"All the way from the ages of 16 through to 22 is a group we are going to pay a lot of attention to.

"We are going to give them what they need to develop as footballers and they will always have an opportunity as long as they apply themselves well and progress in the manner we expect at Everton. We are really excited about the players we have in-house.

"People speak about possible signings and targets, but I get excited about the young players we have here. They have an incredible future and every one of those players deserves huge credit for the way they perform on a daily basis."

There is always great pride among the coaching staff when a youngster graduates through to the first-team. The supporters too love it when a local lad comes good.

It’s not just pride though there is, of course, a financial aspect attached to a thriving youth system.

With no oil baron to bankroll us the club have to try and compete on a limited budget, with a successful youth academy the best way to do so.

Not only does it allow the first-team manager the opportunity to strengthen his squad with fresh, talented youngsters, it can also earn the club millions in transfer fees.

For example, Anichebe and Rodwell alone earned the club £18million over the past two seasons, while Rooney ultimately cost Manchester United nearly £30million.

Everton, though, do not put all that effort in to sell their best academy graduates and now the club is in firmer financial footing they will no longer be forced to sacrifice their brightest stars like they did with Rooney 10 years ago.

The ultimate aim is to produce a player who will reach the very top both for club and country and under Martinez you get the feeling the current crop will get the best opportunity possible to shine in the senior side.

And if his optimism in their potential proves well placed, we have every reason to be very excited about the future.

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