Tom Davies’ Milestone Proves That The Academy Still Provide The Spirit Big Money Signings Can’t

Following last Saturday’s start against Watford, Everton academy graduate Tom Davies joins company such as Wayne Rooney & Ross Barkley to have hit 50 Premier League appearances for the Blues.

The the final result was demoralising following a goal from Watford captain Troy Deeney with just over 10 minutes to go, but the West Derby lad’s flair in the recently assembled midfield 3 of himself, Rooney and Idrissa Gueye shone through, particularly in the first half, & for not the first time this season, Evertonians came away from the game in agreement that the local lad was the only real positive from a sub-par performances. Since discussing what he needs to do to become a mainstay in the side with Performance Director Ryland Morgans after sitting out back to back games against in January, Davies has played his way back into the team & finds himself further up the pecking order ahead of players who have joined the club for big money, such as Davy Klaassen and Morgan Schneiderlin, who are respectively 6 & 9 years Davies’ senior.

Though Everton’s injury list & failure to replace Romelu Lukaku has played a part in the blooding of younger players, the likes Davies, Mason Holgate, Jonjoe Kenny and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are burdening more responsibility than they should this season due to senior players not finding any real identity and clashing stylistically, leading to multiple attempts at different lineups and formations, yet Davies’ is no stranger to taking on a challenge to advance further in his career, as shown by the little time it has taken him to reach 50 Premier League appearances.

This is a testament to Everton’s academy & youth recruitment who acquired Tom age 11 from Tranmere Rovers back in 2009, as within the span of just 5 years, the midfielder was a regular for the u21s & had trained at St. Georges’ Park with members of the England national team. Despite the common argument that young footballers are given too much too soon, this all seemed to come in Davies’ stride rather than looking like he has been dropped in at the deep end. His debut goal for Everton against Manchester City in 2016 set the world alight; the sequence of a Ronaldo chop, followed by a daring run & a chipped finish could have easily led to Davies believing his own hype & consequently leaving his potential unrealised. The wider attention and media scrutiny does not seem to hinder Davies’ cool, down to earth demeanour, as his continued work ethic and willingness to take on responsibility endears him to the Goodison faithful. Whereas, more recent acquisitions to the squad don’t seem to have that chip on their shoulder, they believe their price tags represent their true value, as opposed to earning your chances along with the fans respect, which is very much part of the ethos in academy.

Davies’ desire to not stand idly by and accept a run of admissions from the starting 11 reflects in his style of play: a deeper lying, creative midfielder who always looks to play the ball forwards, and chase it when his team don’t have possession. His persistent running and eye for a killer ball was best showcased in September’s win against Bournemouth, coming off the bench and taking apart the Bournemouth defence with an eye of the needle pass, converted home by Niasse & ultimately inspiring the 2-1 comeback victory. Though Davies’ statistics are relatively underwhelming (1 goal and 1 assist so far this season), his involvement in the Everton side immediately makes Everton more of an attacking threat due to his forward thinking instinct and eagerness to win the ball.

This instinct is what Everton have lacked profusely this season, with far too many performances from players who are content to “do their job” as opposed to the “any means necessary” spirit of the 19 year-old. In spite of the teams inability to grasp any real consistency in results, Davies’ has recently gathered several individual plaudits from the media, being ranked 37th out of 98 by Italian publication “Gazette dello Sport” of the best players born from 1998 onwards, and 7th out of 50 by CIES Football Observatory, who ranked Europe’s most promising u20 players. If such form continues, Davies very well may find himself in contention for Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad selection dilemma ahead of this Summer’s World Cup.


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