Whilst the year 2022, home game against Crystal Palace aside, might have been a forgettable one for most Everton players (and Toffees supporters) the same cannot be said for one young Blue who has been making steady if unspectacular progress behind the scenes at Finch Farm.
“Steady” is actually a really good opening description of Sebastian Quirk, or Seb as he’s known to his team-mates in the Under 21s. From being almost out of contract last summer and clearly not being in the plans of Paul Tait’s predecessor, David Unsworth, Quirk has gone on to earn himself a place on the plane to Australia for the Sydney Cup starting this weekend. Although, in all fairness, this may not have happened had Idrissa Gueye and Amadou Onana not been at the World Cup in Qatar, it’s reward nonetheless for a young man who has crept without fanfare, fuss or drama into the immediate plans of Frank Lampard.
Many Blues supporters will be unfamiliar with Seb, so as a keen follower of the Everton youth teams I’ll tell you what I know about him.
Firstly, he’s quite a big unit. Listed as 6 foot tall but he actually looks bigger than that, he is no lightweight on the football pitch. His big strengths are his afore-mentioned physical presence, his tackling/ winning the ball back and his ability to keep things steady (that word again) and simple. You won’t see many goal attempts from him, not too many killer through balls but if he gets any minutes for the first team you will notice him on the pitch as he patrols the space in front of the back four.
Positionally, I think he has found his true position after being in danger of being “too versatile” for his own good. He is currently playing as the more defensive of a midfield duo with the more familiar name of Isaac Price, allowing the latter freedom to get forward as a box-to-box midfielder. He has played in the youth ranks however not only as a defensive midfielder but also central midfield, right midfield, right wing back, right winger, right full back, left midfield and even one game at centre forward! Whilst operating as a wing back under Unsworth he did show he can cross the ball from the right with pace and accuracy, so it is good to have that as a strength.
Statistically, the Liverpool-born player has featured in 67 games split between the Under 18s and Under 21s, scoring 5 goals and providing 11 assists during that time. This season he has featured in all 18 games at Under 21 level bar one and has scored 1 goal, provided 3 assists and received 3 yellow cards.
Whilst it’s dangerous to make comparisons with established Premier League players if I had to with Seb Quirk it would undoubtedly be with the former Chelsea and Manchester United player, Nemanja Matic. So I’d say he’s more of a “player’s player” than someone to get supporters off their seats but the tall Serbian followed a similar path of switching positions before he established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders around.
Can Quirk get anywhere near that level? Only time will tell but he appears level-headed, willing to listen, has a good coach in Paul Tait and won’t easily be overpowered even at this stage. He actually turns 21 in December and a little like his U21 team-mates Kyle John, Joe Anderson and Mackenzie Hunt he would have to be registered as part of the 25-man squad for next season (or be loaned out) if he makes the breakthrough. Good luck Seb, here’s hoping you get that chance!
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