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Everton MLS Transfer Targets: Tyler Adams

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Could this US U-20 star fit a long-term need for Everton?

International Champions Cup 2015 - Chelsea v New York Red Bulls Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In the second post of our series on potential Everton transfer targets from MLS, let’s take a look at Tyler Adams, a midfielder for the New York Red Bulls.

Adams, only 18 years old, has become an important piece in the center of midfield for the Red Bulls this season. This is his first season as a full-time member of New York’s senior team, and he has acquitted himself quite well thus far.

He is currently away from his club, starring for the United States U-20 team in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.

Strengths

Perhaps the greatest attribute Adams holds is his insane stamina and work rate. The 18-year-old can cover an impressive amount of ground on a match-to-match basis, and is proving that he can do so with little rest in between appearances.

Playing as a box-to-box midfielder, Adams has played 355 of 360 minutes in the United States’ current run in the U-20 World Cup — those four matches have taken place over the course of just 11 days.

He’s proven to be capable of the same with the Red Bulls in MLS play as well. New York utilizes a high-pressing system that would look at home under Jurgen Klopp, and Adams has adapted to the physical demands of the system with relative ease.

Weaknesses

At only 5’9”, Adams is on the small side, and does run the risk of being muscled out of the play. However, if he can continue to survive in MLS (an incredibly physically demanding league), it’s reasonable to hope he can overcome his small stature in Europe as well.

As a deep-lying midfielder, it’s tough to say exactly what he’ll be able to contribute offensively going forward. In his 661 career minutes in MLS thus far, he’s failed to pick up either a goal or assist (and MLS awards secondary assists, so getting one there is much easier than in England). Obviously 661 minutes is a pretty small sample size, so it’s a little early to rule out the possibility that he’s got an attacking side to his game or that he could develop one.

In fairness to Adams, the New York native does have one goal in a friendly for the Red Bulls, scored against a small club you may have heard of before — Chelsea.

Potential Contributions

At only 18 years old, any significant contribution from Adams at Everton or any other major European club is probably one or two years away. Yes, Tom Davies made significant contributions at the same age this season, but American players tend to develop a little later than their European counterparts, and it’s important to note that Adams has only appeared in eight senior-team matches for the Red Bulls thus far.

Were he to move to Everton in the immediate future, Adams would almost certainly spend a year or two playing with the Toffees’ U-23 side. If he continued to develop there as rapidly as he has stateside, though, there’s no reason why he couldn’t be a legitimate first-team contributor by 21 or 22 years old.

Team Fit

As of right now, it’s a little unclear as to whether Adams’ long-term position ought to be as an out-and-out holding midfielder (i.e., Gareth Barry or Morgan Schneiderlin) or a box-to-box midfielder (i.e., Idrissa Gana Gueye). The reality is though, Everton could use beefing up of the youth ranks at either position.

Tom Davies obviously starred for Everton’s senior team this season, and Kieran Dowell has been a regular contributor for the England U-20 side at the U-20 World Cup over the last few weeks, but both of those players are more attack-minded central midfielders. Adams fills a need in the area of defensive midfield, where there are no players from the U-23s evidently ready to make the jump to the senior side.

Given the uncertain future of James McCarthy and Muhamed Besic’s injury history, Everton could use a young player with Adams’ skillset, whether he proves to be more of a No. 6 or a No. 8.

Likelihood of a Move

Historically, the Red Bulls haven’t been opposed to selling their talented, blossoming homegrown players when the time is right, with Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Matt Miazga all having made the move to the Europe directly from New York. However, there should be serious doubts as to whether or not this is a time that makes sense for New York to make such a move.

The Red Bulls, under relatively contentious circumstances, traded away captain and club legend Dax McCarty this off-season, largely as a way to open up playing time for Tyler Adams and fellow homegrown central midfielder Sean Davis. If New York sold Adams this summer, it might lead to a fan revolution in addition to the obvious gap left in the center of its midfield.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though — MLS-based American players have long left their domestic league for Europe a little before they were ready for the bright lights on the other side of the Atlantic. The Toffees may be best served keeping a close eye on Tyler Adams this season, rather than looking to make a move immediately — but if the 18-year-old midfielder continues his current career trajectory, he’ll be ready for Europe in no time.

You can watch Tyler Adams with the New York Red Bulls when he returns from international duty on June 18 against Alejandro Bedoya and the Philadelphia Union on ESPN or June 24, when the Red Bulls host David Villa and NYCFC on Fox. In the interim, you can catch Adams and the United States U-20 team in the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup on Sunday, June 4 at 2:00 EST.