As part of our 2013-14 Everton season recaps, one of the awards we look forward the most to giving out is the Young Player of the Year title. The Blues have been long renowned for their youth system and this award is a way of calling out the players who we expect to become the mainstays of the senior side in upcoming years.
This season we saw a departure from David Moyes' style of trusting in experience as Roberto Martinez was not shy about using young players in all sorts of games. Including Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku, Everton has twelve of twenty-five first team squad players on the books at the age of twenty-five or under. This can only bode well for the Blues' future.
To keep things clear for this award, we chose to not include players from the youth sides, who will get a special review of their own in the season review series. We also set the age-limit at twenty-three years of age, and required that they have played at least ten games this season. For your voting criteria, keep in mind how many games these players played, how well they played and also how much potential they showed to move up into greater roles going forward.
Here's the shortlist of players:
John Stones - Young defender (turned 20 yesterday!) went from Barnsley to Brazil in one year. Strong in possession, excellent centerback who has shown an eye for ball distribution. Still needs to work on his positioning in the box, and needs to add some bulk to utilize his height better.
James McCarthy - Compact and physical midfielder, strong tackler and great motor. Only 23 and has plenty of time to improve. Doesn't add much on the attacking side with an average shot and minimal opposition box presence. Is a beast in his own half though, blocking shots and cutting out passes. Has been lackadaisical often in the first half, usually rebounds with better performances in the second half of games.
Ross Barkley - Another player that Martinez brought along as the season progressed, enough to warrant a World Cup callup. Barkley turned 20 in December and marked his first full season with a hatful of spectacular goals. We'll just let this video of the lad's skills do the talking.
Gerard Deulofeu - The Barcelona loanee showed off his silky skills this season out on the wings. While he does tend to get 'lost' during games and is also guilty of hanging onto the ball for way too long at times, there is no doubting that he has bucketloads of talent and will someday turn into a fearsome winger.
Romelu Lukaku - Another loanee, this time from Chelsea, Lukaku is another raw youngster who is already a terrifying player for defenders to handle and will only get better with age. Everton's top scorer this season, the Belgian youngster followed up his 17 Premier League goals last year with another 15 this year - have a look-see.
Vote below and let us know who you think should be Everton's Young Player of the Year.