Following on from other recent contract extensions in the Academy at Everton the names of Luke Butterfield and Callum Bates won’t mean much to the casual observer of the Toffees youth ranks.
Butterfield’s contract had been due to expire next summer but he has now signed for the Blues until 2025 while signing on for his first professional deal, Bates has committed his future for the same duration.
In all honesty, as there have not been many highlights shown of the Under 18s this season, I have seen little of Bates but to sign him so immediately after his 17th birthday when he became eligible shows that the Goodison hierarchy see something in him. He has not been a regular starter for the Leighton Baines’ Under 18 team so it is indeed some show of faith.
Luke Butterfield, a 19-year-old Scottish Under 19 international, is probably far less well known than his midfield team-mate Isaac Price who has been heavily involved with first team training. When you see them together on the pitch for the Under 23s and last season in the FA Youth Cup (Butterfield scored a stunner) they might appear to be similar players at first sight. They are both very mobile and dovetail very well as a partnership.
The difference is that Butterfield, who is clearly rated highly, is perhaps more of a number 6 when he plays in a 3 or if he’s in a central two then he is the more disciplined and defensive of the two players. I have seen a fair bit of him and he reads the game well and wins the ball back, not dissimilar to our rarely seen first team signing from Manchester United, James Garner.
Speaking at his signing, Butterfield said -
“It’s a great feeling to sign this deal. I’ve seen past players at Everton get to my position and then progress to where I want to be in the future.
“All the staff have been so helpful in my time here. The support has been excellent, both on and off the pitch. The Club helped me a lot in moving away from home early, providing digs for me to stay in and all my transport. I can’t be more grateful to them.
“Now, I just want to play as many games as possible for the Under-21s, then hopefully get in and around the First Team and maybe even get minutes.”
It’s nice to see that ambition from both of these young players, the words spoken by all of these prospects support the management proclamation that now, more than ever, there genuinely is a pathway to the first team. Good luck boys!