Joining Everton's Academy from Sheffield United in the summer of 2016 for
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was regarded as one for the future, but it didn't take long before manager
Ronald Koeman wanted to see what he might be able to do for the first team.
Described as being physically strong with good aerial presence,
Calvert-Lewin was named in England's U20 squad, having made it
into the Blades' senior side the previous year following a very successful loan spell at
He went into Everton's Under-23s side under David Unsworth who said: "This
is an opportunity of a lifetime for him. To go from League One to the
Premier League is a massive jump but he certainly has all of the
attributes to make that jump, given time, hard work and the desire I
know he has.”
After a few appearances from the subs bench in December 2016,
including the match against Hull City when he was unlucky not to score a goal
that could have won the game, Calvert-Lewin was given his full Everton debut by Koeman in a Premier League fixture against Southampton. He would last just 5 minutes, however, before he
turned his ankle in a tackle and was forced off to spend the next two
months on the sidelines.
Koeman's faith in the youngster was rewarded when he returned,
though, and Calvert-Lewin scored a lovely opening goal in his first start back, again against Hull City in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park,
with a sweet finish. The striker had only played in 10 senior games, scoring
one goal, when his contract was renegotiated to run for another year with significantly increased
And he was picked by Koeman to play in a
surprising number of games, albeit often out of position wide on the right before he left early to play for
England in the U20 World Cup in South Korea. He would go
on to feature in most games and was there when it really mattered, in
the Final, where he scored the only goal of the game to win the trophy
for England and the unprecedented group of five Everton players in the
By 21, Calvert-Lewin was emerging as a highly competent, mobile young forward with an excellent first touch, good distribution, aerial prowess and ability to bring other players into the game. What he lacked, despite coming up with the occasional "pearler" or vital strike off he bench, was regular goals, a need that became acute during Marco Silva's first season as manager at Everton following Koeman's dismissal and the interim tenure of Sam Allardyce.
With the Blues having largely failed to replace Romelu Lukaku, it appeared as though the new manager felt he had enough firepower in the side with Calvert-Lewin, new signing Richarlison and Allardyce acquisitions Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun. However, while Richarlison would finish top scorer in 2018-19 with Gylfi Sigurdsson on 13 goals, his best form came from out wide and there was a big onus on Calvert-Lewin to start scoring. He would manage just 8 goals that season but his greatest value to the team was still coming from his tireless running, workrate and aerial ability which allowed the other forwards to operate in space around him.
Silva and Director of Football, Marcel Brands, would make what was widely regarded as an obvious move during the summer 2019 transfer window with the purchase of
teenage striker Moise Kean from Juventus, a player of whom much was expected and who promised to pose stern competition for the centre-forward role. Calvert-Lewin, however, asked for and was given the famous No 9 shirt for the season, adding, perhaps, further incentive to lift his game and increase his strike-rate leading the line for Everton.
It took time; with only 7 goals scored by Christmas 2019, but Calvert-Lewin
would then profit massively from a change that arrived initially with Duncan
Ferguson stepping in to replace Silva before Carlo Ancelotti assumed the
helm on Boxing Day. The stand-in boss paired Richarlison with "DCL" up front in an old-fashioned
and sometimes derided 4-4-2 formation and the young striker banged in 8 goals in just 10 games to earn a new 5-year deal
from the club that would secure his place leading the line through 2025.
Unfortunately, his goals completely dried up following the resumption of the League following the three-month Covid-19 shutdown in the spring of 2020. Calvert-Lewin failed to find the net in any of the final nine fixtures of the campaign as the team generally struggled for form and ambled their way to a 12th place finish but he still ended up joint-top scorer with Richarlison with 15 goals in all competitions.
Though the 2020 close season was a protracted one, Everton's squad and Calvert-Lewin in particular appeared to have used it to the maximum because both came flying out of the proverbial traps at the start of the 2020-21 season. Bolstered by three key midfield acquisitions in the form of Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez, the Toffees won their first six games in all competitions and Calvert-Lewin fired eight goals in five starts including successive hat-tricks at Goodison Park, becoming the first player to manage the feat since John Willie Parker in the 1953-54 campaign.
He was rewarded with a first call-up to the senior England squad in October 2020
and would go on to score more that 20 goals – the first Everton player to do
so since Romelu Lukaku. As injuries and suspension disrupted the Blues' campaign in the autumn before Ancelotti's first full season in charge fizzled out altogether after the New Year, Dominic would only manage 3 goals in the last 18
games of the season as Everton dropped from being early leaders to finish a
poor 10th in the Premier League.
Calvert-Lewin continued to get selected for the England squad by
Gareth Southgate but, when it came to meaningful games at the delayed Euro 2020 tournament,
Harry Kane always got the nod but rumoured interest from
Arsenal surfaced in the wake of the tournament, interest that never really firmed up before DCL sustained a serious injury that would sideline him for four months during 2021-22 and then contribute to a success of injury problems that would derail his career over the ensuing 12 months.
He had made another blistering start to the Premier League season,
scoring in each of the first three matches under new manager Rafael Benitez, that despite a broken toe but a torn quadriceps kept him out until New Year and he would be in and out of the side for the rest of the season, with all evidence pointing to a player who was just not physically right.
The frustration of not being able to play having ascended to such great heights the previous season weighed heavily on the Yorkshireman and he admitted to internal battles and
emotional challenges that compounded his slow recovery and loss of
form but a triumphant return in the penultimate game of 2021-22 hinted that he was back on track.
Needing to win to guarantee their Premier League survival, the Toffees fell behind 2-0 to Crystal Palace but when goals by Michael Keane and Richarlison brought them back level, Calvert-Lewin came up trumps when he launched himself at a Demarai Gray free-kick and powered it home
to secure a precious late win.
With Everton still in a financial straight-jacket after 3 years of
excessive losses, a profitable sale of their star forward was strongly
rumoured but, perhaps, the combination of the asking price and doubts over Calvert-Lewin's fitness meant that as 2022-23 approached, he was still a Blues player.
Unfortunately, he succumbed to injury yet again just days before the season was about to kick off against Chelsea, with a knee injury condemning him to another six weeks in recovery and new manager Frank Lampard bereft of options at centre-forward unless he could acquire a solution in the transfer market before the deadline.
» Calvert-Lewin’s Changing Tastes Offer Everton a Fresh Edge
» The Predator
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