Despite the frustration of Sunday’s draw and Carlo Ancelotti’s red card, there is some good news for Everton supporters today as defender Mason Holgate has signed a new deal.
Holgate has become an increasingly crucial figure for the Toffees at the back and his performances have gone from strength to strength, making him one of the first names on the team sheet under new manager Ancelotti. He’s even played with aplomb in midfield at times.
The 23-year-old has matured greatly over the course of this season and with his pace, solid defending and excellent passing ability, he is very much in the mold of a modern central defender.
There is also now increasing talk of him getting into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the upcoming friendlies before Euro 2020 this summer. It’s also possible he might make that final squad too.
This is quite a transformation from where Holgate was just a year or so ago. The defender had been on a loan at West Bromwich Albion, which ultimately hadn’t worked out, and his future at Goodison Park was unclear.
I have always been a fan of his and I thought he would make a fine player, but he was in and out of the Everton team and was being played at full-back as well as centre-half without having a consistent position in the team.
This I feel was impairing his development. A young player often needs time to find his feet, especially at centre-back, which is so much about learning subtle positional sense and the more cerebral aspects of effective defending.
Playing centre-back is quite different from full-back in terms of your positioning and how you defend. The loan period at West Brom seemed to underline that.
This season Holgate has had a chance again at Everton due to the fact that the club failed to sign a fourth central defender in the summer transfer window. Had they done so, it’s very possible Holgate would still be either out on loan or possibly sold, probably to a Championship club.
So he had another opportunity as the original combination of Yerry Mina and Michael Keane didn’t work out and Holgate got his chance. After an inconsistent start eventually he has taken it. One obvious indicator he is making an impression, is that fact he’s now being linked with a move to other so-called ‘bigger clubs’ like Manchester City.
His signing a new deal comes just a few weeks after Richarlison got a new long-term deal late last year, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is also likely to be offered one very soon.
More from Prince Rupert's Tower
If Calvert-Lewin does sign on the dotted line as well, which I hope he does soon, then Everton will have tied down all three of their best young players for the foreseeable future.
One factor which seems an obvious reason why these players are willing to commit to the Blues, is Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian’s arrival has transformed the feeling around Goodison Park and it’s obvious that the players have responded well to the fact they have a genuinely world-class manager when they look over at the dugout.
Ancelotti has talked up these young individuals and certainly seems ready to build his side in the future around them. With Ancelotti and these three players to build around and the prospect of more quality signings in the summer, the future looks increasingly bright for Everton FC.