Whether or not we will see a resumption of football in England anytime soon, it looks like Everton have already informed the youth team players about their futures. The Echo report that the Blues have had conversations with at least five key players in the Under-23 side with another’s fate still in the balance.
The Under-23s had an underwhelming season this year and were languishing in seventh place (out of twelve teams) when play was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. There has been no formal decision announced on how their season ends, but it’s very likely it’ll be scrapped.
The captain of the Under-23s Morgan Feeney is one of the players who has been told that he will not be offered a new deal when his current contract expires at the end of this season (whenever it happens). The 21-year-old has been with the Blues since the age of seven, and has led the club to two Premier League 2 titles as well as the domestic double last season. As a central defender he looked a shoo-in for the senior squad a couple of seasons ago, but yesterday’s decision puts an end to that speculation. Feeney was a regular part of the England Under-18 set-up but since then hasn’t been invited back to St George’s Park.
The only reason to cut ties with a player who is still very young would be if the coaching and scouting staff made a unanimous decision that he had peaked and there was no point in offering Feeney a new deal like the club had done in the past with players like Matthew Pennington and Luke Garbutt. A season ticket holder in the Gwladys Street end, we can only hope this lifelong Evertonian will land on his feet somewhere.
Fellow defender Matty Foulds will also not be given a new contract. The 21-year-old has been mostly deployed as a left back this season, but even with no recognized prospects at the position behind Lucas Digne and Leighton Baines the club have decided he will not continue to be part of the youth squad. Foulds was signed from Bury in January 2016.
Midfielder Alex Denny and forward Manasse Mampala will also not receive extensions. Denny, who turns 20 this summer, received a new two-year contract after making his debut in the Europa League against Apollon Limassol in December 2017. He’s been surpassed in the middle by Nathangelo Markelo, Dennis Adeniran and Tyler Onyango in recent seasons. Mampala is the same age as Denny and had a big impression with the Under-18s two years ago when he potted 11 goals and 6 assist in just 18 games, but has since failed to reach those heights again.
Con Ouzounidis also has an expiring contract but the 20-year-old defender has yet to have a final decision made on his contract extension. There was good news for Nathangelo Markelo though; the Dutch midfielder apparently will get either an extension or a whole new deal, and then offered a loan to a club in the Eredivisie to continue his development. There had been a number of offers from Holland for the player during the January transfer window but Everton declined to see him move.
With Everton facing some financial austerity for the next couple of years, these moves seem appropriate towards clearing out players with no futures from the squad, starting at the youth level all the way to the first team. The Blues have a number of senior players with contracts ending this summer - Maarten Stekelenburg, Leighton Baines (the veteran will likely be getting a one-year extension), Cuco Martina, and Oumar Niasse, with all except Baines being allowed to walk.