During the recent years of topsy-turvy Everton management, the recruitment strategy has taken on many guises. The Merseyside club have become somewhat of a second home for players needing a new start away from the the bigger clubs of Europe. But also in that time they have brought through a few of their own.
In the first game after the Premier League shutdown, Carlo Ancelotti showed that he is more than willing to give younger players a chance in the first-team when he selected 19-year-old Anthony Gordon in his starting XI for the Merseyside derby against Liverpool. Gordon went on to make another eight appearances before the end of the campaign.
Tom Davies is another academy graduate who has made the jump up to the first-team and featured in 30 league games in this elongated season. Likewise, Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have both spent time in Everton’s Under-23s honing their craft before becoming regulars in the Premier League.
Ancelotti is keen to use younger players
It is therefore surprising that the club have allowed one of their most promising prospects to leave.
Kieran Dowell first joined Everton 15 years ago and signed his initial professional contract in 2014. He has been brought up, in a footballing sense, by Duncan Ferguson and David Unsworth who have both been involved in the academy in recent years before each taking the opportunity to manage the first-team on an interim basis.
Dowell certainly has a future ahead of him, but that will now take place - for the foreseeable - at Norwich City, who have signed him on a three-year deal. Dowell has had spells out on loan at Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Sheffield United recently, but his time at Wigan Athletic in this campaign, scoring five goals in 12 league appearances showed that given game-time, he will perform. He was instrumental in Paul Cook’s side only losing once in their last 15 Championship matches, which included scoring a hat-trick in the 8-0 demolition of Hull City.
Now aged 22, the Everton academy graduate wants regular first-team football and Everton were not going to stand in the way of his progression, despite them knowing they were losing a homegrown talent. “Everton would like to thank Kieran for his service during his time with the club and wish him every success with his new team,” the statement read.
"There was a bit of interest [from other clubs] towards the end of the season and when Norwich came up, with the history of the club and what they’ve got going on with the boss and the players they’ve got here, I think it was a really good fit for me," Dowell told Norwich City's website.
"It’s a massive step in my career which is why I had to make sure it’s the right decision for me. I had a few offers but after speaking with Stuart [Webber] and the boss and having a look around the training centre, I knew this was the place for me.”
Dowell heads to Norwich City
Dowell only made five first-team appearances at his boyhood club but was a key member of their Under-23’s Premier League 2 title-winning squad in 2017 and in the same year was part of the England side that triumphed in the Fifa Under-20 World Cup.
The creative presence of the young midfielder may have been something Everton could have done with going into the new season. The vision and energy of Dowell could have played a part in Everton’s rebuild and would have added something different to their attack.
Ancelotti has admitted that he needs new players for numerous positions if the club are to challenge further up the table. Given the increased use of Gordon and centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite getting a run of games in the final strait of this season, placing faith in youth is something that the Everton manager is not afraid of doing. But Dowell’s future lies away from Merseyside after