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Everton land Sunderland youngster

| Thursday, 15 July 2021 52comments  |  Jump to last
Everton will sign 16-year-old striker Francis Okoronkwo after agreeing a fee of £1m with Sunderland.

That's according to MailSport who say that the Blues will add him to their development squad as the latest acquisition with an eye on future first-team involvement.

Okoronkwo is already 6ft 3in, and his physique allowed him to compete with players 2 years above his age group in Sunderland's Under-18 side last season, where he made 17 appearances, scoring three goals and making three assists.

Reader Comments (52)

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Andrew Brookfield
1 Posted 15/07/2021 at 18:21:35
Championship at best ;)

Joking aside welcome to our great club, hopefully the next DCL

Robert Tressell
2 Posted 15/07/2021 at 18:24:01
Obviously no idea about this kid but a few signings like this can save us a lot of money if they succeed (or cost us peanuts if they fail). So makes sense to supplement the academy this way.

That said, I always feel a lot of sympathy with a club like Sunderland that's already lost Hugill to Man Utd last season. Shame these kids don't stick around to represent their local clubs. That's modern football unfortunately.

Brent Stephens
3 Posted 15/07/2021 at 18:29:10
Swings and roundabouts, maybe, Robert. We might lose the likes of Small at the same time as we sign this lad.
Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 15/07/2021 at 18:29:57
Good luck to the kid, and hopefully he does well. Everton will probably just go and sell Small, for a similar fee now, and I just hope we can sell a few of the first team squad, to free up some wages for a few new additions.

Danny O’Neill
5 Posted 15/07/2021 at 18:33:30
Interesting academy Sunderland. Liverpool signed a young player from them around the same age back in 2018, Luca Stephenson. I served with his dad who was a good player himself, representing the Army.

Welcome and good luck.

Colin Glassar
6 Posted 15/07/2021 at 18:59:56
Probably to be released in 2023. We’re lucky if 1 out of 20 of these kids ever make the grade.
Derek Knox
7 Posted 15/07/2021 at 19:08:24
Although we never know the true ins and outs at Finch Farm with these youngsters and how they fare etc, very few are seen to be given contracts to keep them at the Club, or even are given the chance to train with the first-team squad. I'm not that naive to believe they will all make the grade, as Colin says, but many good ones are released (Haaland) prematurely too.

We have just released a few to Blackpool, I just hope we don't regret it later down the line, and have yet to make decisions on a few others too.

Robert Tressell
8 Posted 15/07/2021 at 19:55:24
You're probably right Brent #3 but this trading of teenagers sort of teaches them to chase the money rather than love the club. Small in all honesty would possibly have been best served staying at WBA all along, because they might offer him first team football quicker.

I'm a hypocrite really because my head says bolster the academy squad with signings like this but my heart says its a rotten state of affairs.

David Pearl
9 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:02:46
Derek, can you believe we had a chance to sign Haaland and passed on him!? I know they can't get it right all the time what a momentus balls-up.

Please feel free to blame Bill Kenwright and turn this thread into another bashing Bill club get-together. Or we could arrange a special TW night for it...

Well you never know, good luck the kid. The season Unsworth topped up the u23s didn't work out but we have had some good ones in Stones, Calvert-Lewin, and Holgate.

I see we are about to let Bernard go but l would've liked him to get more chances last season as he did okay in patches. If we get another centre-back in, then that puts us up to 7 of them. Then we have 6 central mids and could be signing another one. Question marks over Delph and Gbamin of course but surely at least 2 of them will be moved on. Brands will be a busy man, let's hope for a couple incoming before they fly off to Florida. Sorry for going off thread!

Robert Tressell
10 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:12:13
David # 9, in fairness loads of clubs had a similar chance to sign Haaland. The fact he ended up in Salzburg seems to suggest he and his dad (wisely) thought through what a good career trajectory might look like and were impressed with the RB organisation. It's certainly paid off.
Derek Knox
11 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:43:12
David @ 9, I beg to differ with Holgate, who I don't really rate, and would be made up if we got a decent offer for him accepted. Mind you he is not alone, just how many on that Old Deadwood Stage we can move to another town, may lessen the Calamity! Yee Hah :-)
David Pearl
12 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:56:04
Robert, l agree he certainly got some good advice. What a player!

Derek, Holgate had some iffy moments last season but also some very good games such as against the RS. I wouldn't shed many tears if we sold him but he could also kick on again if he sorts his head out.

Tony Abrahams
13 Posted 15/07/2021 at 20:58:11
The more I think about it, the harder it just seems to be, trying to bring these young players through, and sometimes it makes me wonder what the answer is.

Roberto Martinez was the first to mention how many kids really stagnate in this country, between the ages of 19-21, and this has been evident at Everton imo, but can’t have been helped by us having such an unsettled era with regards to having so many different managers in charge of the first team.

I remember a very young Arsenal, footballing the Everton team that came 4th, off the pitch at Highbury, in a league cup game, with so many possessing a talent that seemed to be entrained into the Arsenal Wenger style, but I can’t remember many of those very talented kids coming through either.

Maybe feeder clubs, could be the way forwards? Young kids getting proper competitive football in a settled environment, could only be a good thing, and might just help more young players come through to play at a higher level, because the present system seems to be falling down, and possibly because to reach the end game, (the top) a lot depends on a players physicality in this country, and I'm sure it’s something that should and could be improved, with more game time lower down, to possibly help some of these kids adapt? (My wording is probably to difficult to understand)

Thinking about this a little bit more, I’d say Everton’s budget at this level, probably dwarfs nearly every single club in league one, a league that half these expensive teenagers, eventually fail to make the grade into, for just a little bit more perspective, on how much money is wasted across the board?

Simon Dalzell
14 Posted 15/07/2021 at 21:02:43
Now we're talking. Normally we wait until 1 minute off the window closing, buying an Iwobi instead of a Zaha. This could be a game changer, bucking all previous trends. My faith has been restored.
Tony Everan
15 Posted 15/07/2021 at 21:12:01
Welcome to Everton, Francis Okoronokwo, I'd like to know whether he is a striker or midfielder.

I was reading this article in the Sunderland Echo which says midfielder:

Everton win race to land promising Sunderland youngster Francis Okoronkwo

Anyway, he has been flagged as a real talent for quite a while so it will be interesting to follow his development.

Ian Burns
16 Posted 15/07/2021 at 21:55:38
Tony - 14 - it is always an interesting subject for debate owning a team lower down the system (eg: League One). It would never be allowed in this country but I wonder how successful it is in such as Spain, where the top clubs have their B team playing in their equivalent of the Spanish second division.

How many players move from the B team to the first team? Certainly far far more than is promoted from our junior teams to the first team I would venture to suggest.

For me that’s the way forward but another impossible dream.

Robert Tressell
17 Posted 15/07/2021 at 22:20:47
Ian # 16, it would be possible in Scotland or Denmark. Or as Mike Gaynes sometimes suggests the MLS but more along the lines of an affiliation than ownership.

Red Bull obviously looked at the youth development and transfer system and concluded it was crackers - therefore built a model to largely circumvent the traditional approach.

I have joked we could acquire Dundee and send Duncan up there to manage them with Branthwaite, Gordon and Simms in the side. We've done dafter things!

Tom Bowers
18 Posted 15/07/2021 at 22:41:38
Wow, 6'-3'' at 16… imagine what he could do in both penalty areas assuming he makes the grade in the Premier League. Knowing Everton's luck, he will be sent out on loan and then into obscurity.

However, perhaps with the new gaffer, he may become an asset down the line under the right coaching.

Sam Hoare
19 Posted 15/07/2021 at 22:50:06
Hopefully more Calvert-Lewin than Josh Bowler. As ever, the present and future will come down to the quality of recruitment decisions, and the quality of coaching.

The academy has not produced many players either to help the first team or boost the coffers over the last season or two so hopefully this is a move that pays dividends down the road. Seems like there is a good crop of 16- to 18-year-olds coming through now so perhaps he'll be part of that.

Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 16/07/2021 at 07:25:31
I'm all for the feeder system. In a way, although not necessarily with specific clubs, but haven't Wolves and Brentford kind of been applying this in principle by targeting a specific market (country)? And didn't a relatively successful Watford have half of Udinese on loan a few years back? I think it was them.

Martinez actually suggested the B team concept they practice in his native Spain. I like that; our second string playing in the lower tier(s) but actually playing competitive football. It would also maybe focus the club(s) on putting more consideration into the type of player they bring into the youth system.

And adapt a system, playing and coaching culture that is repeated from youth through to first team. One where everyone is coached to the same principles so they play the same way and players can step up or down seamlessly.

The Arsenal one was a good example. Wenger installed his way throughout the club. Klopp has done the same. That's why his youngsters were able to play us off the park and embarrass us.

It goes back to the DoF model. Get it right and it becomes almost irrelevant who the coach is. They come and go. That night Klopp was nowhere to be seen and his first team were elsewhere. But the stand-ins knew the system and knew the game plan. They can step up far more readily because they understand what is required.

Maybe not the fault of our coaching staff given the managerial rotating door, but the relationship between our academy has often looked to me like left hand and right hand not talking to each other. It goes back to having a strategy. Not just a business one. A playing one. For that to be realised, you need stability and continuity.

It would take a mindset change, restructuring of the league / pyramid system and well as competition rules. But I'm for that anyway, I've vocally called for a streamlining of the game in this country from the bottom up to the professional game.

Feeder clubs or B Team, I'm a supporter of the concept. But I also think we need to think long and hard to change our thinking on the types of player we produce. We've been too single minded for too long. There is a place for big, fast and powerful, but you need to compliment that with technical ability and skill. We focus too much on the former and get undone by the latter.

I can talk about this all day. This is why I wanted Rangnick "the builder" with a young coach working under him.

Kevin Prytherch
21 Posted 16/07/2021 at 08:32:24
Danny, I think it was Moyes who also advocated B teams, but it was decided it would be unfair on lower league clubs with years of history. That was one of the reasons that U21 cup was introduced (can't remember the name, the one where our U23s play some League One and Two teams).

A link with another team sounds sensible though. We could send 3-5 promising youngsters there every season, they'd save money in wages and we'd play a friendly against them every year to boost their income. Seems a no-brainier???

Mike Gaynes
22 Posted 16/07/2021 at 09:27:53
Kev and Robert, I think a great first step to establish a business relationship with MLS would be to sign one huge Yank, and I mean right now.

Daryl Dike. 21. Striker. Immense potential.

Yeah, I know, he’s been a professional for less than a year, but this guy is worth the gamble. And not just because he scored 9 in 19 on loan for Barnsley in their Championship playoff run-in, or because he's dominating the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

First off, Dike is a massive unit. Picture an Adama Traore physique, only four inches taller and 60 pounds heavier. Tremendous gliding speed, amazingly powerful, dominant in the air, nice skillful touches on the ground, and a freakin’ RPG for a right foot.

Second, he has the attitude. He’s relentlessly aggressive, continually pushing the backline, running past and sometimes over defenders. And nobody knocks him off the ball. Ever.

So what doesn’t Dike have? Experience. There’s nothing sophisticated about his game at this point. Just 48 top-level professional appearances, plus 5 as of tonight (3 goals) for the USA. He’ll have to learn how to play Prem football. But to my eyes he certainly has the instincts, and he’s a natural finisher.

For what it’s worth, he’s also an extremely intelligent and well-spoken young man from an accomplished family. His sister, brother and cousin all played internationally for Nigeria. (His other two sisters are doctors.)

MLS was rumored to want $20 million from Barnsley to make his loan a permanent transfer. Barnsley couldn’t afford it. I think we can. Yeah, it’s a roll of the dice. And yeah, I’m prejudiced because I'm a Yank and I can’t imagine Everton without a Yank in the squad, which we haven't had since Antonee Robinson was sold for pocket change.

But I think this is the guy, and I say get him. Please.

Danny O’Neill
23 Posted 16/07/2021 at 10:08:31
I'd love the idea of the B team model, Kevin, but as you suggest I don't think the English game would accept it. For me, although the feeder system could work, I'd rather the young players got used to wearing an Everton shirt and representing Everton at a competitive level, not someone else.

Mike; always wondered why we don't look at the US market more. Schalke seem to have a hook into it. I watched McKennie a couple of seasons back. Very energetic and versatile player. And they have Matthew Hoppe now.

Pat Kelly
24 Posted 16/07/2021 at 10:15:59
Another report:

Everton have beaten Ajax and QPR for highly rated 18-year-old AZ Alkmaar centre-back, Luuk Kluiters. The Dutch defender will sign a contract till 2023 with an option to 2024. The signing depends on obtaining a work permit

Tony Everan
25 Posted 16/07/2021 at 10:44:27
Mike, He sounds like he is a young Yakubu type of striker, who may well improve beyond that. I haven’t seen much of him but I would also bet that he could make a big impression in the Premier League. I would imagine there are quite a few clubs interested in giving him the opportunity. When I look at our bench and our ability to make a difference in changing games, going for he win or saving them, we have no impact.

This player would give us options, to compete with and or compliment DCL, and also give us that necessity to change it up from the bench. I can imagine the Goodison Park crowd being fired up when he came on to score the winning goal with 30 mins left. At 15-20m, considering his age too, it is well worth looking at.

Sam Hoare
26 Posted 16/07/2021 at 10:46:57
Mike, Dike looks an interesting player. An option perhaps if Kean is sold. £18m seems a touch expensive to my eyes given that Monaco are getting Myron Boadu for around that price.

Where would you place Dike between Victor Anichebe and Romelu Lukaku, two of our strongest young centre forwards in recent years.

Alex Gray
27 Posted 16/07/2021 at 11:32:23
Let's hope we have a plan for the kid that isn't stick him in the Under-23s for years and let the lad have some League One or Championship experience.
Philip Bunting
28 Posted 16/07/2021 at 12:21:39
I think the best thing for this kid to quicken his progression is for him to come to Finch Farm until January, play some games at his age level and get him used to the surroundings, then loan him back to Sunderland to get regular game time in a man's league. Rather than too much change too quickly at 16...
Vijay Nair
29 Posted 16/07/2021 at 12:36:19
I'm not sure this kid is actually a striker at all. More of a left winger who can also play on the right. Seems a real prospect though. Here's wishing him well!
Tony Abrahams
30 Posted 16/07/2021 at 14:03:37
I'd say having feeder clubs should really be a no-brainer, especially when you look at Everton spending £1 million on a kid with potential, which is probably the equivalent of a League One club spending £25 million on a player.
Bill Gall
31 Posted 16/07/2021 at 14:57:14
Prospects remind me of the old gold miner prospectors, they find a small vein of gold and develop it but it runs out, very rarely do they find a golden nugget, example Rooney. I don't know how many young players Everton have from the 14 and under up to the 18 and under but it must be over 50 and it is extremely difficult to say who will make it into a top class premier professional.
Some are outstanding from the start and fade, others are standard performers and suddenly become outstanding and make the grade.
The premiership is a rat race with every team looking for the golden nugget, and it is not often they come up with one, but it is every young players dream to become a top professional and that is why premier league clubs sign young prospects who show early development that they may improve on.
Mike Gaynes
32 Posted 16/07/2021 at 16:53:42
Sam #26, certainly closer to the latter. Dike's physical/structural resemblance to Anichebe is obvious, but it ends there. Anichebe scored about 40 goals in 13 professional seasons. Goal every 6 games. Couldn't shoot or head for goal. Dike is vastly superior on every level.

Now, there's no way I will compare him to the third best striker on the planet in Rom, but the smooth pace and raw power are not dissimilar.

Kean is actually the closest comparison.

Andy Crooks
33 Posted 16/07/2021 at 16:59:48
Mike, I like the sound of this guy. An Evertonian of your standing must have a bit of influence. Get onto it now! I expect to see him in an Everton shirt this time next week.
Robert Tressell
34 Posted 16/07/2021 at 21:52:43
Mike, to me Dike looks like a Moyes type signing. A bit of a gamble but someone with something to prove and willing to work hard to prove it. I could see him at WHU. I could see him following Ismael to WBA. But because of his lack of games we'd be a bad fit for him now as he's not going to dislodge DCL.

But you could certainly see him doing well because he plays with a lot of drive and personality - and has outstanding physical attributes too.

Kevin Turner
35 Posted 16/07/2021 at 23:09:24
Derek #7 Haarland wasn't on a contract I seem to recall, he was a on trial with us for a week.

This type of thing happens all the time across all clubs.

Justin Doone
36 Posted 17/07/2021 at 01:13:05
Although not confirmed I can only hope he become Evertons next superstar. Welcome and good luck.

We are now in a position to sell Kean any buy a top quality right winger.

Mike Gaynes
37 Posted 17/07/2021 at 01:46:34
Robert #34, we have a third forward who doesn't want to be anywhere near Goodison Park because he's having such a good time in Paris. Dike doesn't need to displace DCL. He just needs to replace Moise Kean. We can sell Kean for more than it would cost to buy Dike, and everything I've seen tells me Dike will be the better player in time.

I'd be very surprised to see Dike go to WBA... he's certain to have Prem ambitions. I'd see Wolves and Watford as more likely suitors. But I think your speculation of Moyes' interest may be the most accurate guess -- Antonio is 31 and has missed 30 games injured in the past two seasons, and Dike would ideally be a like-for-like replacement.

Eddie Dunn
38 Posted 17/07/2021 at 05:58:33
Mike the kid sounds great, I wonder if we have scouts looking the far West?
Mike Gaynes
39 Posted 17/07/2021 at 06:20:15
We do, Eddie, but it seems my paycheck has been delayed.
Steve Shave
40 Posted 17/07/2021 at 07:58:03
I'd be really happy with Dike as the Kean replacement, young, determined, powerful and lots of potential for growth. I remember the last time Mike G advocated so strongly for us to buy a player from across the pond. The lad Mckennie is a real talent and Mr Gaynes had got me all excited about the prospect of us signing him, sadly he went to Juventus I think. Due to FFP Kean out for circa £40M and Dike in for £18-£20M would present good business, we can buy a RB with the change. Then our budget could be used to buy the RM we so desperately need, if that turns out to be Ayoze Perez I will not be pleased! I would only advocate for Saint-Maxiwhatshisface is if Richy goes, I for one hope we have him for one more season.
Robert Tressell
41 Posted 17/07/2021 at 08:14:57
Mike, I don't question our need for reinforcements in attack - because Kean will probably leave. But because we're not in Europe we wouldn't be able to give Dike a lot of games. And because he's got so few professional games under his belt he really needs lots of games.

I think that's part of the reason Kean himself got so disillusioned. He couldn't get a run of games in the first team.

It might work better to buy someone who would complement DCL - ie a striker who can play wide or deep (or a winger who can also play up front). That sort of player might get more games.

Danny O’Neill
42 Posted 17/07/2021 at 08:16:14
I spoke to a very close and trusted Newcastle friend. He's still disappointed they didn't get Benitez back.

He lives in an area that is of mixed Newcastle-Sunderland allegiance and told me the majority of his Sunderland supporting mates are disappointed at this as the young player is "one to watch".

Well, at 16 years old, apart from the Rooney's of this world, you can never really tell. But, here's hoping we can watch him realise his potential with Everton.

Steve Shave
43 Posted 17/07/2021 at 09:29:52
Robert - "It might work better to buy someone who would complement DCL - ie a striker who can play wide or deep (or a winger who can also play up front). That sort of player might get more games." A bit like Moise Kean you mean? ;) I jest but lets be honest bud, we aren't likely to get in a better back up option than the one we already have. Problem is that the sulky twat doesn't want to be here, ungrateful shit. Do we risk devaluing him if he stays another season with us? Destabilise the dressing room? Tough call if we aren't offered the money we want for him.
Jason Li
44 Posted 17/07/2021 at 09:41:50
If Richarlison and Dom have a decent World Cup, then who knows what may happen next summer transfer window.

At least by then we already have some decent youth players upfront. And will have money in the bank to consider some experienced player options.

Apart from right back and winger backup mistakes (just a bit too early for Gordon to be a consistent top league match winner), credit to Brands in that there looks like quality youth backups in the rest of the positions very recently.

Robert Tressell
45 Posted 17/07/2021 at 11:22:43
Steve # 43. Personally I see Kean as neither a versatile striker nor an ungrateful twat. In terms of the latter, at age 21 he starts his 3rd season at Everton under his 4th manager. We've provided a terrible home for him. I don't blame him for wanting out.

The sorts of players I think would work better are the likes of Cunha, the Brazilian now being linked to Leeds, and Sima, the Senegalese heavily linked to WHU. Because they can play anywhere across the front line they can play alongside Richarlison and DCL or replace them for injury or loss of form.

And indeed both could end up replacing Richarlison altogether in the first XI if this is to be his last season.

These players, and probably a good dozen or so like them, are very much gettable - so I don't share your pessimism.

Steve Shave
46 Posted 17/07/2021 at 11:29:17
Robert 45 - yes I know, I don't disagree, I guess I just feel frustrated that we have this beast in waiting on our sidelines and we aren't planning a season (As far as we can guess) with him as part of the set up, if that is the case we MUST sell. Granted, it has been a bad move for all concerned regarding Kean, he hasn't been shown a lot of love either. However, sulking when he scores, getting subbed as the sub, liking PSG fans posts of 'FreeKean' on twitter, these actions do lend to a generalised pessimistic view of him by the Everton faithful. I'd be very happy if we sold him and brought in one of these players you mentioned. This is Everton though!
Tom Bowers
47 Posted 17/07/2021 at 11:44:40
Let's face it last season was full of poor results and inconsistencies despite the new manager Ancelotti.

Whilst most of us didn't expect wonderful things overnight the first four results gave us some false hope but the messy RS game seemed to knock us back.

Despite having some strength in depth (at least on paper) the swapping and changing did little to show that Everton could be a superior team to many of the others.

I suspect that Ancellotti was already getting frustrated towards the season's end but I don't think any of us expected him to quit so soon.

So, we find ourselves back in the familiar position of a new manager who has also been around the block and hoping things will change for the better.

Most of us tend to agree on where the team needs improving but will it happen. Let's hope so.

Chris Williams
48 Posted 17/07/2021 at 12:34:13
Sounds like Begovic is a done deal. Free transfer, 2 year contract
Dave Williams
49 Posted 17/07/2021 at 16:36:23
Begovic is good business. No fee, wages should be reasonable so £6m saved on what we might have paid for Olsen. He will be a decent back up whilst Virginia develops.
Brian Wilkinson
50 Posted 17/07/2021 at 22:58:39
Interesting to hear that Ferguson destroyed Kean with double-subbing him, by all accounts by some, yet Southgate double-subbed Grealish and Henderson, in different games, and it was noted as a tactical thing to do.

Kean had only been on the Old Trafford pitch around 8 mins when he was blowing out of his backside and closing nobody down> At least when Niasse got game time, if nothing else, he made a nuisance of himself and closed players down.

Be interesting to see if Kean's attitude has changed; if so and he gets his head down, he could turn out to be a very good addition.

Tom Bowers
51 Posted 27/07/2021 at 12:38:02
The last great 16-year-old we saw progress was Rooney.

Dare we hope this kid will make it and stay with Everton?

Ian Bennett
52 Posted 27/07/2021 at 12:42:03
How about Jack Rodwell Tom? He was 16 when he made his debut, played for England and that got sold with us potless.

Never made it at City, but that's not our fault.

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