Everton have had an unexpected push this season from a player who was on the fringe but has since stepped to the forefront and is leading the side with a major impact this season.
Coming into the year, Mason Holgate looked closer to the path taken by Matthew Pennington than that of John Stones. He hadn’t had too many opportunities to play under Marco Silva, and was sent out on loan last season to West Bromwich Albion where he spent most of his time out on the right flank as a fullback.
Michael Keane and Yerry Mina were the two starters pencilled into just about every teamsheet with Kurt Zouma’s loan from Chelsea not reprised, and it wasn’t looking prospective for Holgate.
Yet, the 23-year-old showed an incredible amount of maturity and finesse when finally given the chance to play, and has started in 17 of the last 18 Premier League games. Not only that, when pressed into action as a defensive midfielder under Duncan Ferguson, he excelled in that role as well.
Given that, it was no surprise that rumours of Manchester City’s interest started circulating and Everton promptly nipped that talk in the bud by giving a big raise and a new five-year deal. Holgate was previously making £25,000 a week but has now been pushed up by a hefty amount to £70,000 per week with undisclosed performance bonuses not included (Football Insider).
Those wages put him on par with club captain and veteran Seamus Coleman and ahead of fellow defenders Leighton Baines and Michael Keane.
Speaking after signing his new deal on Tuesday, Holgate was ecstatic -
“It is a great club to be at and I am really excited about it [the new contract]. The progress we’ve made in my time here has been massive. Things are improving and changing in every area.
“This is my fifth year at Everton and my development as a person and player in that period has been huge. It is definitely a positive time to be at Everton and I am looking forward to seeing how far we can go.
“I want to win things. The direction the club is going, winning some silverware is where I see us, then moving onto the next step and pushing for bigger and better things. I want to be part of a team that is moving forwards and to win things.
“The experience of the manager and the players he’s worked with is incredible. To have the faith of someone like that and be able to learn from somebody like that is massive.”
There was praise for the youngster from his revered manager Carlo Ancelotti who sees a bright future for the defender.
“I did not know Mason before I came here and I was surprised by him. He showed in this period a lot of quality defensively, he is really focused in his defensive work.
“He has the quality to be at the top as a defender - fast, strong physically and good with his head, he is a complete defender.
“It is good for Everton when a young player really believes this a good club and good team and wants to be here.
“The fact Mason renewed his contract means the Club has a really clear idea what it wants to do and this is important.
“Mason can be one of the top defenders, in my opinion. Is he a future Everton captain? Potentially, yes.”