Here at Shoot! we endeavour to keep a watchful eye over the emerging talents in world football and keep you in the know in terms of who you should be watching out for in the years to come.
Having learnt more about Nottingham Forest’s in-demand youngster Ben Brereton earlier this week, today we turn our attention to another talented teen, Everton ace Tom Davies.
It’s been quite the month for The Toffees. The side are unbeaten in the Premier League since the turn of the year and have picked up 15 out of a possible 17 points in those matches.
Everton have narrowed the gap behind sixth-placed Manchester United to five points and sit a comfortable four points ahead of West Brom in eighth.
Ronald Koeman has been nominated Manager of the Month, but, perhaps even less expected, young starlet Tom Davies has just won PFA Fans’ Premier League Player of the Month for January.
The 18-year-old has only broken into The Toffees’ first-team in recent weeks and, with a mere 10 Premier League appearances to his name this term, could be the brightest talent in England’s top-flight.
Shoot! looks at his sudden rise to becoming one of the league’s top midfielders.
Davies was born and bred in Liverpool and is a graduate of the Everton academy. The midfielder grew up in the suburb of West Derby at a time when the likes of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were making names for themselves after passing through the Merseyside school system.
He joined The Toffees at the tender age of 11, moving from Tranmere Rovers for a small fee, but was hesitant in committing his full time to the club and spent time plying his trade at both Everton and at schoolboy level.
During the 2014-15 season, Davies became a regular in the Under-18 side and his talent was plain to see. The tough tackling and pin-point passing that we see in the Premier League today was evident even then.
Towards the end of this campaign, he was promoted to the Under-21 side and featured in matches against the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Davies has also enjoyed success on international level, and in the summer of 2015, he captained his country in the Under-17 World Cup, and by October, had been called up to train with the senior side at St George’s Park.
Come the start of the following season, Davies’ place in the Under-21 side was made permanent. In the second fixture of the season, a mini-derby against Liverpool, he grabbed his first goal for the team.
His first professional contract at the club came just over a week later. He went on to make 15 appearances, scoring once and assisting three times that year.
However, the pinnacle of that season for Davies came in April 2016, when he made his first-team debut in a 1-1 draw with Southampton.
A month later, following the dismissal of manager Roberto Martinez, Davies was given his first Premier League start, on the final day of the season, under temporary managers David Unsworth and Joe Royale, impressing in a 3-0 win over Norwich City.
The arrival of Koeman saw any hopes Davies had of cementing a starting first-team role from the off squashed as he played the first 12 matches of the Under-21 side’s season. That said, he was named in the matchday squad in Gameweeks three and four, coming off the bench twice.
November and December last year saw Davies earn another three Premier League appearances, all from the bench.
It was on January 2, that the teenager was afforded his first Premier League start of the season, against Southampton. His performance stole the show, assisting one of the side’s three goals.
Since then, he hasn’t looked back, starting every match the rest of that month, and picking up another goal and assist. His performances have been pivotal in Everton’s purple patch. The midfielder is silky smooth with the ball, lightning fast when breaking away and has a canny ability at winning back possession.
He has outperformed any midfielder faced, even world conquerors like Yaya Toure, and looked unfazed throughout. He seems to have earned the trust and respect of Koeman, the Dutch manager choosing the youngster over £24m signing Morgan Schniderlin already, and is being afforded plenty of game time.
The rapid rise of Tom Davies is nothing short of phenomenal and Everton look to have a very, very hot star on their hands.