Everton have always had one of the best English academies. High quality talent has always come through the academy and it looks like there is a new generation brewing. When David Moyes joined the club back in 2002, he came with certain objectives and one of them was to build the academy to be one of the best and it’s looking that it will soon return it’s just rewards…
The tall central defender joined the academy as a 16 year old and ever since has begun to shine for the Blues’ younger teams. Shane suffered a horrific injury during an international game but fortunately recovered and hasn’t looked back. After a successful spell on loan at Scunthorpe, Duffy then got the chance to feature in a number of games for Everton. For a young defender drafted in to cover injuries, he did exceedingly well but lost his place to the experience and higher quality of the first team players. Since then he has been an ever-present on the Toffee’s bench but has captained the U-21s throughout the season and scored a number of headed goals. Very recently the Irish man has been given the captaincy of the national sides U-21 team.
The local lad has been with the academy since the age of 11. Ross is seen as an extraordinary talent by many in the game, with ex-Arsenal defender, now pundit, Martin Keown being quoted as saying he’s “one of the best players we’ll ever see in this country”. Barkley is your typical box-to-box midfielder, he’s incredibly strong for his age and good in the tackle, but at the same time has scored goals in any youth teams he has been involved in and hasn’t been short of assists in that time either. Barkley, like Duffy, had an extremely unlucky injury that kept him out for over a year. After returning, he quickly moved onto the Everton bench and it wasn’t too long before he made his debut on the opening day of the 2011/12 season. He was one of the highlights on a poor day for the Blues but again like Duffy lost his place after a few games to more experience and higher quality first team players. Barkley has been out on loan twice this season, firstly at Sheffield Wednesday where he was considered their best player, scoring 4 goals in 13 appearances and then secondly at Leeds where he is again being called the best player by the Elland Road faithful.
Stones was signed in the most recent transfer deadline day. He is considered a huge talent at Right Back after getting his debut for Barnsley at the age of 17 and going on to make 28 appearances. The Yorkshire man has also featured for England U-19s and has turned out some great performances. With the Right Back position being problematic for decades at Goodison Park, Stones will hopefully develop into a great full back.
Unlike the previous three academy players mentioned, Francisco isn’t the tallest. At 5 ft 4 iches tall he’s not the most imposing. He does make up for this in promising talent though. Another box-to-box midfielder, in any showings an Evertonian has seen they will known he’s very feisty in the tackle but also has been a very good passer. Another impressive player for the reserves, he has only made one senior appearance in a dismal team display at Leeds. A very tough introduction after returning from injury, there’s more to come from the former Benfica and Man City academy player.
Lundstram has been with the Blues from a very early age. He’s another strong player that’s brilliant at breaking up play and distributing it to start up an attack. Another one that impressed for Everton in the reserve leagues, he has played numerous times for England youth set ups and has very recently been given the captaincy of the national U-19s.
Vellios joined Everton’s academy when he was signed from Greek club Iraklis Thessaloniki in January 2011. While not scoring a huge amount at the Greek club, his promising displays lead him to being selected for Greek national youth teams and getting linked to a number of European clubs. Since joining the Blues, Vellios has largely been a regular scorer in the reserves but has made 22 appearances for the first team, mainly as a substitute, and has scored 3 goals. While this doesn’t seem too great a stat, the Everton side have always looked a lot more dangerous going forward when he has been on the field. The hated footballing expression “he’s got a great touch for a big lad” has to be attributed to Vellios and with his aerial ability he could go on to be a useful striker in the future.
The highly rated left back was signed by Everton from Leeds in 2009. Another one to be heavily involved in English youth teams, Garbutt has only made one appearance for Everton’s senior team as a substitute in a comfortable win Leyton Orient last year. The Yorkshire man has been out on loan to Cheltenham and was a key player in their run to the play-off finals in which they were narrowly edged out. Luke is still considered a promising player with a sweet left foot.
The Scotsman is another now Everton youth player that shone for a different team at a young age and was quickly purchased by David Moyes. Turning out for Kilmarnock at 17, he impressed in the Scottish league on the wing and sometimes as a striker. So far in the Royal Blue shirt, it has been in the U-21’s where he has scored 4 goals in 13 appearances and put in a number of Man Of The Match showings. Everton can look forward to a tricky winger who is not afraid of taking on players and getting a shot away.
George was signed from Bradford City for a seven figure fee at just the age of 15. He has been likened to Rooney in terms of potential as he can play as a central attacking midfielder or attacker. He’s been reviewed as being a player with amazing technique and vision, while also being able to grab a goal. Since joining Everton he has been recognised by the three lions youth set up, featuring for the U-17’s. Here is an incredible goal from the young Everton lad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEBExK9UMz0
Unless we’re incredibly lucky, not all of these players will make it at Everton. What we can look forward to though is a number of young players that are featuring regularly for national youth teams and will be coached by top coaches, some of which have played for Everton and will be sure to keep them grounded and passionate for Everton Football Club.