Fears appear to be growing at Everton that they will not be able to convince young prospect Thierry Small to remain at the club as he prepares to sign his first professional contract.
Small, who became Everton's youngest ever first-team player, when he made his senior debut last season in an FA Cup tie, has not reported for pre-season training at Finch Farm, amid suggestions that he is set on a move away from the club because he doesn't see a short-term pathway to regular action playing for the senior side at Goodison Park.
Small initially came to prominence when he was featured on the BBC's Wonderkids series and there has been plenty of buzz about him in Everton's Academy, such that at 16 years and 176 days he replaced James Rodriguez against Sheffield Wednesday, setting a new club record that had been held by Jose Baxter since 2008.
Initially signed from West Bromwich Albion when he was just 11, in what was considered a coup as he was already being coveted by scouts from many other clubs, Small graduated to the Under-23s last October and has been very impressive so far, making a total of 13 appearances in Premier League 2, scoring 3 goals. He has since been capped by England at youth level and received his first call-up for the U19 squad in May 2021.
According to The Athletic, Everton have prepared a tempting three-year professional contract for Small which he is eligible to able to sign when he turns 17 on 1st August. However, the youngster's failure to show up last Monday and his continued absence from training at the start of this week has been accompanied by reports that Manchester United, Arsenal and Bayern Munich are circling, hoping to tempt him away from the Toffees.
Small's recent change in agents is being seen as an indication that he wants to move on in the belief that Lucas Digne and Niels Nkounkou are standing in his way at first-team level. However, Everton are said to be determined to keep him and it is understood there was contact between the club and his representatives yesterday as Blues officials look to get him to agree to stay.
Reader Comments (118)
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1 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:18:04
I haven't seen him play but certainly if Digne and Nkounkou stay then Small will go. Perhaps that is best if his attitude is anything to go by.
2 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:22:49
Even 16-year-olds demand first-team action these days and are prepared to walk if not given the chance. Perhaps they should look at the likes of Ravel Morrison and Tom Ince to see how easily “promise” can turn into shit.
3 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:27:18
I don"t think either of them are ready for regular first-team football at this moment in time.
4 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:30:53
5 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:35:52
And the chance of him getting in any club's 1st XI at 17, especially a position where a mistake equals a goal, is pretty small. I assume he thinks the seats on the benches elsewhere are more comfortable.
6 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:36:04
I'd wager a very big signing-on fee is at the bottom of this alleged move, together with big wages. He hasn't got the talent or ability, at the moment, to get a permanent place in any top team. What he's got is the potential to be a Premier League player. Let's see how far that gets him.
For me, he wasn't the best player in the U18s, he was certainly better going forward than he was defending, where he wasn't always comfortable or a great reader of the game. Then again, he's still just 16.
7 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:39:07
8 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:40:48
If he wants to go, and the article implies that his one-to-one training is an indication that he wants to go, maybe the new manager's first job is to get an assessment from the coaching staff, then give him an interview.
9 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:46:02
Is it another kid believing his own hype way too early and will eventually fade away to a career well short of what it could have been?
10 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:48:53
11 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:55:08
It's possible that he's thinking long-term and wants to go to a Sky club so he can get the best coaching and work with the best players, and he's prepared to sit on the bench or play in the U23s for a while yet.
Of course, it could be about the money.
12 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:56:31
On one hand, great to see ambition and desire to succeed if the story is true. Never knock that out of a player, just try to channel it.
But, the boy (he's a boy) would do well to understand that he is someone with potential but is still developing. There are very few players like Rooney in the footballing world who are ready made at 16. We've had many a discussion about coaching and youth development. This player would do well to stay and develop rather than do a Scott Parker (to coin a phrase) and jump ship early only to warm the bench elsewhere. And I say that without my Everton spectacles on. There are other examples.
If I don't turn up for work, I don't get paid or I get penalised unless there is good reason, usually health or family stuff. If he simply has not turned up for work, I hope there is good reason other than not fancying it.
I don't want to be harsh on the lad himself. He is very young and inexperienced. I smell an agent at work. Not someone who has the player's or the individual's best interests in mind.
That said, if the Bayern link is true, why wouldn't you jump at that opportunity? And from his point of view, with Digne and Nkounkou in front, it could be a long wait at Everton.
Kind of contradicting myself a bit there, but trying to analyse both from an Everton and the player's perspective.
13 Posted 13/07/2021 at 09:58:06
14 Posted 13/07/2021 at 10:01:46
I presume there has been some communication and the club know his intentions. Whilst it's disappointing, that's a person's right. He is in effect a free agent but being an Everton youth product we need to be compensated accordingly.
Minimum of £1M plus a large percentage of any future sell on, say 25%. I think he's got all the tools to have a successful career. How successful is up to him.
This isn't the behaviour of someone who hasn't got options, ie, been tapped up by another club.
Everton have been fined and banned for their youth transfer activites in recent years and need to put up a fight against this, to try and keep him and stop him from easily joining another club without agreement.
15 Posted 13/07/2021 at 10:02:17
16 Posted 13/07/2021 at 10:03:37
17 Posted 13/07/2021 at 10:09:25
18 Posted 13/07/2021 at 10:16:18
Depending on how this works out, time will inevitably tell if he is the one that got away… or becomes the next Cadamateri.
19 Posted 13/07/2021 at 10:34:01
I disagree he'd be further from the first team if he moved to a very big club. Alphonse Davies is an example of a huge club trusting youth in the very same position. Greenwood, Foden, Alexander-Arnold, James etc are all examples of exceptional youth breaking through.
His chances with us are limited because Digne is very good and because the club is a mess with a revolving door policy on managers and a short-termist approach to recruitment.
In reality it might be best for Small to move to a better run club who he trusts to give him a route to the first team.
I don't want that to be the case but it's yet another downside of bad club management.
20 Posted 13/07/2021 at 10:45:40
21 Posted 13/07/2021 at 10:53:22
My understanding is that young players before their 17th birthday have scholarships with the club's academy. But I presume this is some form of mutually binding contractual agreement between youth player and club, albeit not 'professional'?
In this context, Transfermarkt indicate his current 'agreement' with the club runs through June 2022.
If this is true, then I assume he is not strictly a free agent and should be obliged under that agreement to turn up for training as and when required by the club.
Perhaps Tony Abrahams could tell us what type of agreement he had at Nottm Forest, although times and contracts may have changed since then?
22 Posted 13/07/2021 at 11:05:11
23 Posted 13/07/2021 at 11:08:21
I know it's only Football Manager 🙂 but the game has an extensive scouting system, probably on the same level as many top teams and is littered with "can't miss" prospects at 16/17 who go nowhere in their real-life careers. Case in point: Jack Rodwell in my old FM 2010 game ended up going to Man City (!) where he enjoyed a fabulous career, ending up as England captain with 100+ caps...
24 Posted 13/07/2021 at 11:42:41
Our problem is how long can we keep hold of Digne, because the Champion League clubs must be casting an envious eye at him.
25 Posted 13/07/2021 at 11:43:02
If he's not a Blue then I get it. Wants to play straight away. Naive and not a true blue. I get it in this day and age of agents and big bucks. I hope he stays and the club manages him well.
26 Posted 13/07/2021 at 11:55:36
I'd be disappointed if he left; I've watched him a few times and I can see why he is coveted. Considering his age, he is already a physical specimen and will get stronger. He's pretty quick, direct and confident and has no fear at all about attacking from the left-back position. He's still raw and has a long way to go but I can see him making a Premier League player.
We're going to have to offer him the going rate, close to the other offers he'll get, and to give him some firm assurances on pathways to the first team. It may be unpalatable to the club to appease his agent but, in the long term, it would be a good investment for Everton as long his development is managed well.
27 Posted 13/07/2021 at 11:56:04
We the fans provide all the soul they could ever need, but the Covid bubble isn't the only bubble they're in, they just don't see or hear us.
28 Posted 13/07/2021 at 11:58:17
29 Posted 13/07/2021 at 12:15:09
Not only that, but there are rumourings were looking at possibly taking him back.
I can see why he didn't settle. New country at 19, miles away from home, manager who signs you gets sacked midway through the season and replaced by a dinosaur. No wonder he got fed up pretty quickly.
30 Posted 13/07/2021 at 12:34:13
31 Posted 13/07/2021 at 12:44:37
32 Posted 13/07/2021 at 12:46:23
33 Posted 13/07/2021 at 12:52:53
As others have said, ive seen jim a few times, but apart from his physical attributes speed and strength, he didn't look like the next Rooney, or Garbutt even.
34 Posted 13/07/2021 at 12:53:18
He and every one else knows he has talent so he will make a move in the direction he feels is right for his career and I am sure his agent has a big say in the matter especially with big contract money in the offing.
35 Posted 13/07/2021 at 12:53:25
I don't blame him or Small.
Successful clubs can blood these sorts of players in European dead rubbers and the league cup. We can't (or largely don't).
If Small leaves it says more about the club than him in my view.
36 Posted 13/07/2021 at 12:58:42
From the outside looking in, he's probably going to become a millionaire within the next few weeks, so I just hope it doesn't affect his desire.
37 Posted 13/07/2021 at 13:05:41
38 Posted 13/07/2021 at 13:26:10
If there were any loose promises about a long-term strategy and focus on building a team based on talented youth, they will be starting to look very hollow.
39 Posted 13/07/2021 at 13:28:03
40 Posted 13/07/2021 at 13:31:24
I was hoping that the new system of fast tracking players, which looked to be getting implemented last season, might be a real game changer for us in the future though, and also provide a lot more experience for the younger kids coming through, moving forwards, and would therefore be very surprised if this wasnt a money motivated move?
Ive just seen you have made your point Robert, so just ignore me mate!
41 Posted 13/07/2021 at 13:47:43
I think you're right about him having broken some agreement by not turning up. But if he's wanting out anyway... although presumably Everton hold his registration? Does that give their position any strength in a hostile transfer?
A bit puzzled by references to Vlasic in this... he was always a first-team player. (Okay, since I'm the Arbitor of Literal Truth, he did play in one single U23s game that season... 4 years ago!!!)
He wasn't very good. He was given plenty of opportunity to prove himself at senior level. But 2017-18 wasn't a great season. I'm not convinced he's that much of a loss, is he?
42 Posted 13/07/2021 at 14:09:00
If Small is contracted to Everton until the end of next season, then it sounds like he his going to turn down a professional contract with the club. If this happens then I expect him to be transferred, but Im not sure if it would be for a nominal fee, or go through a tribunal, unless he goes abroad, which I think means he will leave for next to nothing?
43 Posted 13/07/2021 at 14:10:54
Like in other jobs, they are in place more as a basic responsibility of what to expect whilst being trained up, but can be easily got out of if it prevents their development or an offer of a better contract.
Registration is key, because Everton could hold on to it and delay things should they want to be awkward but ultimately compensation is usually agreed between clubs or with FA involvement.
I remember when Fulham 'stole' Doherty, he was a decent young player who reminded me of Osman. But real progressive player 'development' is a hard thing to judge.
44 Posted 13/07/2021 at 14:11:30
Small would be better signing up to a contract with us, and asking for a loan to a decent League One side. If he turns out to really be the 'next big thing', then good luck to him – the rules about kids and contracts are there for good reason.
He could just as easily turn out to be Luke Garbutt, Liam Walsh and Brendan Galloway too if he ballses up this decision. And thinking he somehow has more chance at Man Utd, Bayern or Arsenal sounds like a poor bet.
45 Posted 13/07/2021 at 14:32:46
46 Posted 13/07/2021 at 14:44:59
Why stick around and play crap, uninspired football (Rafa is known for this) with a club that probably won't win diddly due to crap, safety-first, dour football?
47 Posted 13/07/2021 at 14:57:02
Nothing at all to do with his agent asking to sit tight until August, then sign for another club and make himself very rich, without even kicking a ball.
Glad you put me straight, on that one.
48 Posted 13/07/2021 at 15:44:55
I know Dave, like myself and a few others on TW, try to watch as many live games of the academy teams as we can.
Small has got a good press because he is Everton's youngest ever 1st team player (but not if you ask Dave who recalls a lad playing in the Senior Cup in the 1950s who was younger!) and he featured on some BBC Whizz Kids programme, highlighting his skills.
But as Dave said, Thierry wasn't the best player in the U18s and certainly not with the U23s. He's got some ability and he looks good in 2 minutes highlights clips. Impressive going forward. Not so good at his day job, defending.
Of all the players that have passed through Everton's Academy In the modern era, only Wayne Rooney at 16 or 17 already had 'IT'. It was evident he was destined for big things.
Thierry Small hasn't shown anything near having 'IT'. He could be a good 'un. He could be yet another kid who never made 'IT'.
If the player's head has been turned by those whispering advice in his ear then there is little the club can do about it. Ridiculous then to blame Rafa, Brands or regarding his (still only rumoured) impending departure as a structural failure at the club and an obvious condemnation of all who work with Academy players
49 Posted 13/07/2021 at 15:47:44
This kid has been making noises about hanging on signing a contract for the Blues while Benitez was in China. The reason he got five minutes with the first team was a sweetener to try and persuade him to sign up when he is 17.
If Everton hadn't been 3-0 up with minutes to go, he wouldn't have played that day. He might be worth the wait and hassle to get him to join us; time will tell.
50 Posted 13/07/2021 at 15:53:34
Perhaps defending is not considered an essential for a full-back in the modern game?
51 Posted 13/07/2021 at 16:23:49
Try getting a teenager to do what's best for them!
52 Posted 13/07/2021 at 16:24:01
Oh, and how legally binding is any agreement with a legal minor?
53 Posted 13/07/2021 at 16:27:39
54 Posted 13/07/2021 at 16:36:41
Fair enough. If this kid has been hanging on for a big contract prior to Rafa's coming, I stand corrected.
My post was one of a first person slant: What I would probably do under the circumstances.
Rafa coming in can't help. The prospect of the style of football most likely played surely would be a factor, in my opinion.
Brian, I'm not trying to set you straight, only offering a first-person perspective / opinion.
55 Posted 13/07/2021 at 16:45:14
56 Posted 13/07/2021 at 16:50:34
57 Posted 13/07/2021 at 17:04:42
On Small, he is basically the epitome of a modern full-back. When you watch the U18s or U23s, he stands out because he has the speed, stamina and end-product along the entire left flank. He reminds me of Alphonse Davies of Bayern. You could play him anywhere along that flank.
I made a comment in one of the matches that Kyle John is probably a more mature, rounded footballer. John understood how to receive the ball, beat the press, and work the ball upfield. With Small, it was more "Charge!"
But, despite this lack of maturity, he has end-product. Kyle John is a really good player for the U23s but seems very unlikely to have the career Small will.
58 Posted 13/07/2021 at 17:05:48
I don't doubt Small has the tools but, with an attitude that says "I won't bother going back there and won't let anyone know," he can sail on by from my point of view.
There are already too many overpampered spoilt brats with attitude and, for me, there are plenty more fish in the sea.
Give me attitude and determination over ability anytime.
59 Posted 13/07/2021 at 17:11:24
60 Posted 13/07/2021 at 17:31:03
61 Posted 13/07/2021 at 17:40:45
62 Posted 13/07/2021 at 17:41:55
All of us who have coached youth players know that often those who develop physically ahead of their peers standout at lower age groups but when those peers catch up physically they often go ahead of them as they have developed other important talents.
However we are not in a position to lose our best young players but if their heads, and those of their parents or guardians, have been turned then there is not much we can do.
63 Posted 13/07/2021 at 17:58:35
At the rumored price, I call him an excellent buy. Hope you're right.
64 Posted 13/07/2021 at 18:07:22
I think he will suit Benitez pretty well actually and at 25 is a good age to hit the ground running but still have resale value and time to improve.
65 Posted 13/07/2021 at 18:26:18
Put his gear in a bag and tell him to meet Big Dunc at a Motorway Services for collection.
66 Posted 13/07/2021 at 18:29:55
67 Posted 13/07/2021 at 18:34:13
If he is good enough, he will progress as there are many big clubs with big money to offer but none of them will guarantee a first-team place until you have proven yourself at the highest level… and even then, you may have to face opposition.
68 Posted 13/07/2021 at 18:41:25
69 Posted 13/07/2021 at 18:56:12
70 Posted 13/07/2021 at 19:07:58
71 Posted 13/07/2021 at 19:29:09
Here's one that should be of big interest to you:
According to The Daily Mirror, Manchester City are interested in Antonee Robinson of Fulham.
72 Posted 13/07/2021 at 19:52:43
If the club has done everything correctly and he doesn't want to play for us, fuck off then.
73 Posted 13/07/2021 at 20:17:46
74 Posted 13/07/2021 at 20:26:47
How much of Small's wow factor is simply that he has physically developed quicker than his peers? Give me a teenager who knows how to play, has the brain to play over someone with the physical attributes. Rooney was – in the nicest sense of the word – a freak. He had the brains and he had the physicality at 16. Look at others who have been great athletes at 18 or 19 and never made it because they did not have the football brain.
What's the view on Thierry Small? All down to his size compared to his peers?
75 Posted 13/07/2021 at 20:43:12
Just turned 25, he's played a ton of games already as a regular, so well-experienced for that age. Pretty much reached the "Now or never" part of his career.
He's bound for someplace. I'd think the "someplace" he'd prefer is where they pay Premier League wages.
We'll see if it's us soon enough.
76 Posted 13/07/2021 at 21:52:52
If the lad wants out and whilst decent not an outstanding young player, let him go.
There's another massive season at Everton as the Rafa era gets going.
I've no real feeling what's gonna happen this season and perhaps that makes the contemplation easier.
Hopefully the players who've been on international duty return, fresh and positive...We shall see.
Put Delph as the bonus player in any deal with Small going, and that would be a good result.
77 Posted 13/07/2021 at 22:19:51
78 Posted 13/07/2021 at 23:22:40
It still infuriates me that we sold Antonee to Wigan for pocket change. Fulham then got him from Wigan for a mere £2 million. Bet City (or Wolves) is about to pay a whole lot more.
79 Posted 13/07/2021 at 23:30:32
80 Posted 14/07/2021 at 00:52:36
81 Posted 14/07/2021 at 05:52:48
How many times have we seen very promising youngsters at our Club 'tipped for greatness' then their careers take another turn, usually for the worst because of outside influences, or God Forbid serious injuries?
82 Posted 14/07/2021 at 06:33:13
The one thing that has really got me baffled is this: with not living in Liverpool, you dont get much news about the U18 and U23 teams. When you look at the tables and results for these teams over the last 4 years, they are right up there and winning titles...
So why dont we have at least one exceptional player come through and make a place for himself in the Premier League team. They dont have to be world beaters but just one player who is technically sound and gives his all.
83 Posted 14/07/2021 at 08:04:47
84 Posted 14/07/2021 at 08:36:39
85 Posted 14/07/2021 at 09:12:07
In it he mentions a young footballer at Villa, who I can remember, but according to Gray nobody does, because he faded really quickly due to his lax attitude and bloated ego. The player in question was Bryan Small, this lad's uncle.
It seems there may be a family attitude problem. I hope I am wrong.
86 Posted 14/07/2021 at 09:54:57
I hope so.
87 Posted 14/07/2021 at 10:08:05
It'll be a ‘done deal' when he's wearing the shirt at Finch Farm.
88 Posted 14/07/2021 at 10:10:29
Martin, I remember seeing Brian Small play. He was a very gifted player who seemed to just disappear one day.
Who remembers the Spurs (or Arsenal) player back in the 70s who was a great little player but gave it all up to become a preacher? I cant remember his name.
89 Posted 14/07/2021 at 10:14:03
90 Posted 14/07/2021 at 10:15:43
What's the saying "The apple never falls far from the tree"...you might just be right. Brilliant bit of detailed undercover scouting if true. Nice work, young Sherlock.
91 Posted 14/07/2021 at 10:18:14
92 Posted 14/07/2021 at 10:24:55
93 Posted 14/07/2021 at 10:29:28
94 Posted 14/07/2021 at 11:35:02
He was a very talented midfielder. If memory serves me correctly, he also had a brother who played around the same time.
95 Posted 14/07/2021 at 11:43:02
96 Posted 14/07/2021 at 11:53:50
97 Posted 14/07/2021 at 12:35:47
99 Posted 14/07/2021 at 16:39:19
His brother played full back for Spurs and I can't remember if it was him or Kinnear who put Alan Ball out in the first Easter game in London but Alex fixed him up in the game at Goodison on the Monday.
100 Posted 14/07/2021 at 16:52:17
I get all my insider info from retired players' books years after the event.
101 Posted 14/07/2021 at 17:02:27
102 Posted 15/07/2021 at 07:09:18
I'm not sure you understand cancer that well; it's not just the bit you remove – it is the cancer that doesn't immediately reveal itself.
103 Posted 15/07/2021 at 10:25:51
104 Posted 15/07/2021 at 14:09:25
105 Posted 15/07/2021 at 15:15:48
106 Posted 15/07/2021 at 15:53:39
107 Posted 15/07/2021 at 16:20:18
108 Posted 15/07/2021 at 16:30:53
109 Posted 15/07/2021 at 16:45:25
110 Posted 15/07/2021 at 16:47:44
111 Posted 15/07/2021 at 17:48:49
Yes thanks Chris, bit stronger each day, but still getting tired and chesty if I overdo things!
Alan, whichever way we spell it, Small wants out. He's gone AWOL because he's failed to turn up, whether or not he's seen the new offer, and I would be astonished if he hasn't, I would imagine he's been aware of it some time ago. It's not a 16/17 year old who is making decisions, it's 'family', 'agent' or whoever claims to have his best interests at heart that's pulling the strings.
And the bottom line is money. Always will be. Agents or 'advisers' can bleat on about first team chances but it invariably boils down to what's in the brown envelope that's slipped to the parents.
112 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:17:43
What with Digne injured and Nkounkou going to the Olympics (made up for him) isn't Small now our first choice left back? I think he should get his arse back to Finch Farm and pick up his Florida ticket so he can show Rafa what he's got
113 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:23:16
114 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:36:30
115 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:51:56
116 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:59:45
117 Posted 15/07/2021 at 21:16:23
118 Posted 17/07/2021 at 05:19:23
119 Posted 22/07/2021 at 10:13:29
Poor lad, he's just homesick. Probably doesn't like them gobby scousers and their wicked wit!
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