Everton’s under-23 boss David Unsworth has been speaking about the future of Thierry Small recently and is clearly of the belief the Toffees will not be losing the talented left-back.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo Unsworth, a former Everton left-back himself, made it clear the clear pathway to first-team football at Goodison Park should be a reason for Small to stick around.
“The one thing we can give Thierry is a clear pathway. He only has to look at Niels Nkounkou. He spent a week with the U23s and then he was in the first-team squad.
“There’s always a clear pathway at Everton for all the youngsters so he’s in no better place to have a career as a Premier League footballer.”
This comes amid growing interest in the attacking full-back’s services from across Europe. At the end of last month it was reported by the Daily Mail that the likes of Juventus and Bayern Munich were both keen on the player. Arsenal were also being credited with an interest.
But Unsworth’s promise of an eventual first-team spot for Small should placate any fears over his short-term future for the time being.
However, in the long-term, Small might be right to consider Unsworth’s statements as problematic.
Firstly, the Everton first-team is not currently bustling with academy graduates. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the only current regular who came through the under-23s and he was a late recruit from Sheffield United.
Others, such as Tom Davies and Jonjoe Kenny, are regularly on the sidelines.
Then there is the competition.
Everton’s best player, pound-for-pound, is arguably their first-team left-back Lucas Digne. Everton have no intention of letting him go. Meanwhile, Nkonkou’s aforementioned rise since his summer arrival might be counter-productive as he has immediately jumped ahead of Small in the pecking order.
The pathway is not that clear with these two Frenchman blocking the gangway.
Everton fans would love to see Small progress and become a first-teamer. However, he may have to advance onto the wing to get that chance in the next couple of years, or the interest from elsewhere will become increasingly tempting.