“What happened to Beni Baningime?”
This has been a common refrain among the Everton faithful throughout the summer and into the new season. Once hailed as the brightest young prospect in the youth ranks and tipped to replace Morgan Schneiderlin and Idrissa Gueye in the senior side, the midfielder seemed to just disappear last season and still hasn’t quite made his way back.
Starting the 2017-18 season with the Under-23s, he was brought up to the first team by Davis Unsworth during his short caretaker spell following the sacking of Ronald Koeman. That culminated in the then 19-year-old signing a four-year contract in January 2018, but under Sam Allardyce he was banished to the youth side again before returning to the seniors to end the season.
When Silva took over last summer, an ankle injury during the preseason knocked him out of contention and when Baningime was finally fit again in late October, he was sent to the youngsters to get fit again. With no spot for him in Silva’s side, the Kinshasa-born player was sent out on loan to Wigan Athletic for the remaining half of the 2018-19 season but mysteriously after playing the first game, was never seen or heard from again until he returned to the Blues this summer.
Remember Beni shut up Ampadu that game an didn’t want to go near him for the rest of it pic.twitter.com/fmQzZsRu5M— BG (@ScoutedSZN) January 29, 2019
During the preseason Baningime made the trip to Kenya and featured in the game against Kariobangi Sharks, but then switched to Unsworth’s Under-23 side where he has played both games so far in the Premier League 2, both 0-0 draws.
However it seems Dennis Adeniran has now leapfrogged Baningime in the ranks and was training with the seniors last week after Fabian Delph and Andre Gomes were injured and Schneiderlin schedule to miss the game against Watford FC after a suspension.
There is no doubt that at just twenty, there is still a lot of time for the player to develop to his potential, but that certainly involves him playing regular minutes at a competitive level higher than the Under-23s.
The Superligaen might not necessarily be that level and with Brondby eliminated from the Europa League last week there’s little else to look forward to, but if Baningime can hold down a starting spot that’ll be a start for him.