Manchester United and Arsenal are monitoring the situation after Everton starlet Thierry Small’s attempts to engineer a transfer away.
The 16-year-old made Goodison Park history last season by becoming the Toffees’ youngest-ever debutant. He came on as a late substitute to help Everton beat Sheffield Wednesday in FA Cup action. Speaking after the match, Everton coach Duncan Ferguson labelled his recent rise as “unbelievable”.
However, that game remains his only first-team outing and it could yet be his last.
United and Arsenal have emerged as potential transfer suitors for Small, with Leeds also having links to his services.
Now, though, The Athletic has revealed that the teenager is looking to ‘engineer’ a move away from Everton.
While Everton returned to their Finch Farm training base last Monday to begin pre-season, Small did not show up.
Indeed, he did not appear for the whole of last week, which marked the beginning of new manager Rafael Benitez’s reign.
Everton have prepared a first professional contract for the left-back, but they can only get him to sign the deal when he turns 17 on August 1.
In the meantime, they have waited for a sign that Small wants to commit his future to the Toffees. The training no-show, though, comes as a surefire sign of the opposite.
As a result, United and Arsenal are reportedly leading the chase to sign him.
Either side of his maiden first-team outing, Small has played in Everton’s Under-18 and reserve ranks.
In the 2019/20 campaign, he made his breakthrough in the former age group. Last season, though, he stepped up to Under-23 level and played in left midfield as well as at left-back.
Man Utd, Arsenal harbour exciting talent
As for where he could move to next, United and Arsenal have bolstered their strong reputations for developing exciting young talent in recent seasons.
Amad Diallo, 19, has entered the Red Devils’ first team, while Facundo Pellistri also has a bright future. Behind the pair, 17-year-old Charlie McNeill has impressed in United’s youth ranks.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have promoted England star Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to their first team in recent times.
Youngster Kido Taylor-Hart is one of several rising stars in their academy and is close to committing his future to the Gunners.