In a slow week for Everton news, one story claims that Blues striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is ready to consider signing a bumper new contract to stay at Goodison Park.
Such a new deal, would I think be a just reward for the evident progress that the young Everton forward has made this season in what feels like a breakthrough campaign for him.
For a long time there has been much discussion amongst Evertonians about whether Calvert-Lewin was the real deal and if he had what it takes to become a genuine Premier League striker and follow in the illustrious steps of past Toffees greats.
To some extent the jury is still out on this, so it’s important that he continues to find the back of the net regularly and finishes this season strongly as the Blues chase a European place.
However I do think there is enough evidence that the young centre-forward is making real and sustained progress in his game this season.
Calvert-Lewin has struggled to fulfill the potential he showed as a teenager. Over the past few campaigns he had developed into a solid enough focal point and front man, able to hold the ball up and work hard to close down defences. But he wasn’t getting in the right positions and scoring enough goals.
Part of the problem was that he often seemed a very isolated figure under former manager Marco Silva’s 4-2-3-1 system. He was being asked to operate as a target man rather than having the freedom to get in and around the box to score goals. So too often he would be out of position and unable to link up with the other forwards effectively.
Calvert-Lewin started this current season slowly and a bit erratically too. However there were signs he was becoming a little more confident in front of goal. Again though as the team struggled, there were still too many frustrating moments and for all his good spadework off the ball, he seemed to lack the self-confidence to add those elusive goals.
But since Marco Silva left, first under Duncan Ferguson and then after Carlo Ancelotti took over the reigns, Calvert-Lewin has made very significant and much more rapid progress.
Silva’s departure seemed to be a release for him, (as well as for other players), and when Ancelotti came on board his form took off. One of the key reasons was the way in which the Italian made it clear how much he thought of the former England Under-21 striker.
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That public vote of confidence for Calvert-Lewin certainly gave him a timely boost as Everton searched for much-needed points during the hectic Christmas and New Year period.
In Ancelotti’s first two winning games in charge, Calvert-Lewin scored all three of the Blues goals. Suddenly almost overnight the young Englishman was getting into great positions in front of goal and was finishing with aplomb.
Could he keep it going? The answer so far is emphatically yes. Since those first two matches, Calvert-Lewin has netted against West Ham away, Newcastle again and Crystal Palace, both at Goodison Park.
Six goals under Ancelotti is an excellent return. If he gets this new contract then let’s hope it inspires him to add further to this impressive recent haul.
*Stop Press. It’s just been announced that Manchester City have been banned from competing in the Champions League for two years. This story is important to Everton for several reasons.
First of all, although we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, it could possibly open the way for the team that finishes fifth in the Premier League to claim a Champions League spot. So with the Premier League very open, this is a further incentive for the Toffees to strive to climb the table.
While City will no doubt appeal, it’s also a reminder that breaching Financial Fair Play rules can have repercussions, which given the Blues finances is something the club need to be conscious of.