Next up in our player by player review of the past Everton season, in which each individual will be recapped and rated is: Dominic Calvert-Lewin
It wasn’t a great season for most of Everton’s young English talent.
Ademola Lookman hardly played, Jonjoe Kenny failed to impress during an injury to Seamus Coleman, Kieran Dowell and Mason Holgate were sent out on loan, and Tom Davies once again showed off his incredible ability to not at all improve from the player he was at age 17.
So to say that Dominic Calvert-Lewin was the best of the English talent at Everton that we’ve seen frequently feature in England’s youth squads isn’t necessarily high praise. But Calvert-Lewin started every match in the Toffees’ best run of the season, playing in victories against Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United, as well as the home draw against Liverpool that ultimately cost the Reds the Premier League title.
His numbers, as we’ll dive into momentarily, don’t exactly jump off the page — but he’s at least proven that he’s already a Premier League capable striker at 22 years old. The question for him will be: “How much higher is his ceiling?
The first point of reference that just about everyone will use to measure a striker is goalscoring output. In that regard, Calvert-Lewin isn’t all that impressive.
DCL scored six Premier League goals in 1,774 minutes played — that’s 0.3 goals per 90 minutes, or one goal approximately every three full games. Per Understat, his xG for the season was 6.17, with his xG per 90 at 0.32. All that’s just a fancy way of saying that Dom didn’t score a ton, but he converted his chances at around a league average rate when they did arise.
His creative output was relatively limited as well — he picked up two assists in the Premier League.
In a vacuum, that raw output isn’t really enough to warrant Calvert-Lewin receiving regular playing time. But, those numbers only tell part of the story.
In Marco Silva’s high-pressing system, having a striker who has the pace to close quickly on defenders, the strength to win the ball in 50/50 battles, and the work rate to chase for 90 minutes is worth at least as much as his numerical output.
His ability to put opposing center-backs and midfielders under pressure is a huge factor in the entire system working. He forces uncomfortable passes, dribbling, and first touches out of the opponent, giving players like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Idrissa Gueye the opportunity to pounce and win the ball in dangerous areas.
And it’s hard to argue with the team-wide impact. Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson have 13 goals each this season, with Theo Walcott picking up an additional five. That’s 31 goals from non-strikers (a few of Richarlison’s came while he played at the No. 9, so maybe it’s slightly less than that).
Is a system that facilitates such secondary scoring — and the personnel that goes with it — enough to justify a team’s main striker having such a low goals total himself?
The answer to that question — or Marco Silva’s answer to that question, to be more precise — will likely determine Calvert-Lewin’s exact future at Everton. Unlike many of the other young players, DCL has done more than enough to show that he clearly deserves a place in the senior squad going forward.
But, will that position be as a starter, a rotational player, or a late impact sub? I suspect it’ll be as part of a rotation with a striker yet-to-be purchased, but any outcome with Calvert-Lewin still regularly in the 18 is possible.