Where and when did it all go south for Beni Baningime?
The 21-year-old who won the award for Everton Academy Player of the Year award for the 2016-17 season and made his senior team debut the following season has since then slipped to the fringes of the senior squad. The defensive midfielder made 12 appearances for the first team in League Cup, Premier League and Europa League action, which remain his dozen games for Everton to date.
An ankle injury in the preseason of the 2018-19 campaign damaged his chances of making Marco Silva’s side, and eventually when he returned he trained with the first team but didn’t make any matchday squads. Eventually he was sent to Wigan Athletic on loan in January 2019, but after playing in just one game picked up an injury and then for reasons unknown remained unused by the Latics for the remainder of the season.
Baningime joined back up with David Unsworth’s Under-23 side this season and was on the bench for a couple of games before Silva was sacked, and only returned to the first team squad following Everton’s injury crisis in the middle towards the end of the season with Carlo Ancelotti in charge.
Now it appears that Baningime is going to get another chance to establish his credentials, this time at League One Blackpool, for the upcoming season [Football Insider]. His contract with the Toffees still has two years on it and even though his move to Brondby in Denmark failed to materialize last summer, he remains a solid prospect for the Blues at the defensive midfield position where they have struggled so often.
It is telling however that Ancelotti persisted in using a tired Andre Gomes, an uninspired Gylfi Sigurdsson and jack-of-all-trades master-of-none Tom Davies, as central midfielders even as the Toffees were overrun time and again rather than have Baningime on the pitch.
The Seasiders are managed by former Liverpool player Neil Critchley, and have Ethan Robson from Sunderland in the middle as well as Matty Virtue, with the inexperienced Cameron Antwi and Ben Garrity as Baningime’s only competition.
A dominant loan spell by Baningime at Blackpool in the third tier of English football would give Marcel Brands some hope that the 21-year-old can still turn into a first team contributor. For far too long Everton have sheltered footballers with no hope of making a Premier League squad in the Under-23 realm, Matthew Pennington and Luke Garbutt being just two of that list, but it does appear with the culling of Unsworth’s squad that the youth system at Finch Farm is getting more streamlined towards supplying players to the senior side or else getting them shipped out to clubs that match their skill and effort levels in the lower leagues.