It’s always a disappointment when one of your team leaves for pastures anew “in search of Champions League football or trophies” etc. We have just lost an established Brazilian international who gave his all in the blue shirt of Everton but ultimately, after he had helped secure Premiership status for the place he called “home”, he was lured to the white shirts of Tottenham Hotspurs. Frustrating as that is it’s “football”, we accept it might happen and the much-loved Richarlison will leave with the good wishes of most Evertonians.
At the opposite end of the football ladder we have unestablished players/ prospects setting out on their journey who are offered terms to sign Scholarship terms with the club they have been coached by.
2 highly rated u16s at Everton have rejected their scholarship offers.— The Insider (@Theacademybay) June 28, 2022
Left back Ishe Samuel Smith has been linked with Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham.
Highly rated winger Emilio Lawrence has offers from Manchester City, United and Chelsea.
Reports indicate that two such prospects who featured in the FA Youth Cup run of 2021/22 have turned down the chance to sign for Everton, news which will come as a shock and disappointment to fans who follow the youngsters - highly rated left back and England U17 international Ishe Samuels-Smith and also Emilio Lawrence, a Scotland U17 international forward have rejected contracts.
So, who are they?
Samuels-Smith emerged on the FA Youth Cup voyage last season and few could believe that he was just 15 years old as he settled into playing the role as a modern left back with composure, flair and also a maturity that we maybe didn’t see with a previous incumbent of that full back berth, Thierry Small. The latter left for Southampton rather than sign for Everton despite having made his debut under no less than Carlo Ancelotti and having been promised regular U23 football at the Toffees. Suffice to say that he has yet to make his debut at the Saints so the grass clearly is not “always greener” elsewhere. Small was highly effective as a left back getting into goalscoring-glory positions but often left acres of space behind him if play broke down.
Samuels-Smith, on the other hand, plays a lot like club legend Leighton Baines in that he combines both roles of the modern full back effectively, make no mistake he can defend also! Last season, following the departure of the afore-mentioned Small, the U23s were crying out for a natural left back all season. It was filled successfully in the end by converted centre-back Eli Campbell but there were clear opportunities to make progress with the Blues at that level, indeed the first team were crying out for a left footed left back for many games!!
All the more disappointing (if true) that Samuels-Smith were to choose to go elsewhere rather than learn off a master. Manchester City, Tottenham and guess who, Chelsea are linked with luring him away.
Emilio Lawrence also appeared for the FA Youth team as a 15 year old (he was actually 16 in September). He is clearly a very talented and highly regarded footballer who could make the grade in variety of positions. I have seen him operate as a winger, an attacking midfielder and also striker. He has more than a chance of being a regular in Paul Tait’s U23 set up this year and get opportunities to step up even higher. The two Manchester giants and yes, you guessed it, Chelsea are apparently offering him the chance to sign for them.
I totally understand the lure of glamour to players of that age (and no doubt their agents) but the cold hard facts would say, for instance, that Chelsea U23s were almost relegated last season, I saw them and they were pretty awful. Apart from the obvious, why would you swap the blue of Everton where you may well get a chance for the first team for a team where you may possibly fade into obscurity?
So what can Everton do to prevent this happening in the future?
Make no mistake this is not something new, players have previously left before signing terms with Everton and come back to play at a higher level. Ask Phil Jagielka for example! I personally believe the wage structure for these young players should be reviewed to ensure they are competitive with other clubs but the structures should NOT be broken. There should be no exceptions whereby one 16 year old earns higher than the other. The vast majority of players at this age are not tempted by the “off the field trimmings” but there are exceptions and Everton has seen some.
What else? Give opportunities to these kids! Coming off the bench for 10 minutes in games we are winning in front of crowded terraces (yes, I can hear what you’re thinking) will mean the world to them and give them genuine hope for the future. We haven’t done enough of that in recent years. It doesn’t mean they are going to become regulars immediately but the likes of Tyler Onyango and Isaac Price will have been given boosts in the last two years and we need more to believe that they will get on the pitch at Goodison!