When Everton made the hitherto unheralded Ben Godfrey Norwich City’s club record sale in the summer of 2020 for the sum of £20 million (going up to potentially £25 million with add-ons), there were certainly some skeptics among the fanbase who remained unconvinced by the youngster.
Since then though, the versatile defender who just turned 23 has proceeded to exceed fans’ and the manager’s expectations quickly becoming an integral part of the Everton backline with his no-nonsense tackling and physical prowess.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Manchester United, Carlo Ancelotti said how impressed he has been with Godfrey since he joined the Blues and the huge part he has played in the defensive solidity in recent games with Everton picking up three clean sheets in their last nine league games, and conceding more than one goal just once.
“When you defend well, it is because of the sacrifice of the team, the sacrifice of the strikers and midfielders. When the team is able to work together defensively, we have better results.
“Ben is doing really well, it was a surprise for me – I knew him but not a lot. I found a really fantastic defender because he has all the qualities a defender needs.
“He is powerful and has a lot of energy, he is tactically intelligent and really aggressive in the duels. The personality he has, the focus he keeps in every moment of training and games: this is what surprised me.”
Regarding the packed schedule ahead, Ancelotti insisted he was not concerned with squad depth despite the Blues jettisoning a number of players over the January transfer window, and only Joshua King joining the side.
“At the beginning of the season when we played every three days… we won all the games.
“When we started having days to prepare, we had more difficulties. With our squad, we are able to manage the games every three days.”
As far as the Toffees goals for this season, the veteran manager insisted that a top four finish was still within his sights. Everton sit four points out of the top four, but have a couple of challenging games in hand against Aston Villa and current league leaders Manchester City.
“It is still a dream to play in the Champions League.
“This is a really important period, it is true we have two games in hand but also true that we have to play against really strong teams: Aston Villa and Manchester City.
“We are looking at this [top-four potential] but it doesn’t change the target, which is to reach the European positions for next season.”