Everton surely have a contract decision that needs to be made in January regarding the future of our immensely talented young centre-back Ryan Astley.
The Welshman is just 19-years-old. But, alongside Con Ouzounidis and Matty Pennington, has been a mainstay at the back for David Unsworth’s under-23s so far this season.
This was always going to be something of a transitional year for the youngsters. Unsworth’s under-23s are currently struggling for consistent form.
Astley, at just 19-years-old, has still shown he has all the potential to be a future first-team centre-back. If he can progress physically and continue to showcase his modern style of defensive aptitude, Astley has a career in the game.
But Astley is also out of contract in the summer.
Everton’s club policy is to assess the contract situation of players and staff in the New Year. There are no exceptions to this rule. Even director of football Marcel Brands will be waiting until January to finalise any extension to his expiring deal.
However, Everton need to act fast and get Astley tied down to a new deal. There has already been considerable interest in his services.
As reported by the Liverpool ECHO in October, Belgian side KV Kortrijk took an interest before. European clubs can discuss a deal with Astley from January.
The Welsh under-21 prospect is still young, especially for a centre-back, and has unfortunately seen Jarrad Branthwaite leapfrog him in the pecking order when it comes to first-team football.
But Everton should undoubtedly do their best to keep Astley on and in the under-23s for the rest of the season before perhaps considering if a loan spell would be better for his development in 2021-22.
Nigel Martyn speaking to Everton News: Archive