There has been a steady procession of Everton youngsters accepting their first professional contracts over the last week. A fine bit of planning by the club’s promotion team to show daily progress!
On Wednesday, Everton announced that promising defender Ed Jones (main picture) had signed his first 12 month professional contract with the Blues. I saw a few games in the recent Premier League Next Gen cup competition in India where Jones’ strength and determination stood out.
On Thursday the club also announced that fellow centre back Jack Tierney had also secured a contract with the team he has supported as a season-ticket holder. Especially pleasing that Tierney awarded a 2 year deal, no doubt to help with his recovery and development after an unfortunate anterior cruciate ligament injury in January. We look forward to seeing him progress when fit, he’s a proper centre half, strong in tackle and in the air.
Friday’s procession continued with the welcome announcement for Isaac Heath who put pen to paper on a 2 year deal. Heath got more and more involved with the Under 21 group as the season progressed. The immediate thing you notice about Heath is his energy, he never seems to stop. He’s an attacking midfielder, comfortable on both flanks also though possibly more effective at the moment on the left. For anyone with long memories of Everton in their ‘80s heyday there’s a passing resemblance in his “fizzing” style of play to that formerly displayed by his namesake Adrian Heath now coach of US side Minnesota United.
On Monday Jack Butler became the latest to sign on for 2 years. A left back with a distinctive mop-top hairstyle, he has more than a passing resemblance in style to Goodison great Leighton Baines, now his coach of course. Not the tallest but then again, like his coach and mentor, he is good in the air for his size and looks composed on the ball. No excuses for not developing in that position in the Under 18s! Now that Ishe Samuels-Smith has left for Chelsea I expect Butler to get some game time with the higher age group.
Halid Djankpata has been one to watch for a couple of years and is only getting better with time. He is definitely one to watch and the Blues securing his services even at the Under-18 level is certainly commendable. The 18-year-old has made his intentions very clear, indicating his eyes were on breaking into the senior team.
At the time of writing these announcements still leave the following players either awaiting first contract or out of contract, or simply awaiting announcement by the Toffees?
Odin Samuels-Smith (Ishe’s twin brother), Jacob Beaumont-Clark, Bradley Moonan, Daniel Maher and goalkeepers Seb Jensen and Dylan Graham.