Everton Director of Football Steve Walsh has made signing forward Ademola Lookman a priority for the January transfer window. The player is expected to be signed early on for £10m.
Charlton Athletic were initially holding out on the deal, asking for the player to be returned to the club on loan for the rest of the season. But it appears that has now been worked out and the Nigerian-origin striker will join Everton immediately with the Blues expecting him to contend for a spot in the senior squad.
Crystal Palace are also reported to be in the chase for the player, having made a deadline day bid. Tottenham Hotspur and German club RB Leipzig had also sniffed around.
Lookman has scored seven goals and two assists for Charlton in 25 games this season, following up from the five goals and one assist in the Championship last season. He has lined up all along the forward line for the Addicks in the two years.
The Liverpool Echo dug into the background on the youth, and spoke to Steve Avory and Karl Robinson, who manage the youth and senior sides respectively at Charlton.
Two-and-a-half years ago, Ademola Lookman was just another talented kid playing amateur football in South London. He would turn out for a club called Waterloo FC in Kennington. He'd had trials with Brighton in his early teens, but a pro career seemed some way off.
But then came a representative game for the London FA. The opponents were Charlton Athletic's U16 side. Lookman shone, and after the game was invited for a trial by Steve Avory, the Addicks' academy manager. In his first game, he scored four goals. Some introduction.
“It’s very rare to sign a boy with no previous Academy experience and then 18 months later he’s making his debut in the first team," Avory has said. "But Ademola has got there through natural talent and a positive attitude to learning."
Karl Robinson is no stranger to working with talented youngsters. It was he who guided Dele Alli through his formative years at MK Dons.
“I’m so excited to be working with the best kid outside the Premier League," Robinson said. “How amazing is that on your first day? Here you go, work with him. Woah!
"Wow, what a good player he is. He is top, top. My daughter was at the game on Saturday and she is only 10, she said ‘wow, who is he?’ after about 15 minutes.
“He’s obvious, isn’t he? The little man is a little genius. Belief is good – grounded. A little bit nasty, be that. I never stopped Del’s edge. It’s no bad thing. You need to have that in any walk of life."
Lookman has already made five appearances for the England Under-19 team, and three appearances with one goal for the national Under-20 side where Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a teammate of his.