Rafa Benitez’s decision not to send £4.5m Everton man on loan outlines plans for him

Anthony Gordon (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)
Anthony Gordon (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images) /

Back in 2020, when lockdowns and empty stadiums were the new norm in England and rest of the world, the Premier League and all football across Europe was suspended indefinitely. After a three month hiatus, Project Restart came into existence. Everton faced their arch rivals Liverpool and then manager Carlo Ancelotti handed a first team debut to a 19 year old kid Anthony Gordon.

The Merseyside derby is not for the faint hearted. Tempers flare high, emotions and passion often override affable behavior. The derby is a last place you’d want an inexperienced 19 year old kid being thrown into. It is like feeding juicy meat to the carnivores to feast upon. Yet, there was Gordon who outshined every other Everton player in that 0-0 draw. In fact, he was the silver lining in that dull performance that infused hope in the minds of the supporters.

In those nine games of Project restart, Everton looked a soulless side, at times showcasing abhorrent versions of themselves but Gordon announced himself through his energetic, passionate and brave displays. The sparkling gleam in the youngster was duly recognized by Ancelotti and it looked that he would tread on the path of exponential development under the Italian.

However, last season was a farce. Gordon simply didn’t get enough minutes and was sent out on loan in January. It was a shocking decision to many considering how well he had blossomed during the Project Restart. His exclusion was partly down to the extreme competition in his position but did he even have a fair chance to get some much needed minutes? Probably not.

Anthony Gordon is in Rafa Benitez’s plans at Everton

New season, new manager and a breath of fresh air around Goodison Park. From the initial dissection, Rafa Benitez has done a great job and infused professionalism and hunger that looked non-existent in the second half of last season. He has begun his journey of moulding the team in his image and inculcating his ideologies. According to The Athletic (via HITC), he also told the club not to send Anthony Gordon out on loan.

The attacking midfielder had widespread interest but the Spaniard asked the club to reject all the loan offers for Gordon. Now, 20, the Englishman is rated highly by Benitez which indicates the plans that the manager might have for him.

The transfer window has slammed shut with Everton making reasonable additions for a modest fee. Of course, Everton’s spending was curtailed due to the Profit and Sustainability rules and the FFP regulations but this gave rise to a more prudent approach.

More from Prince Rupert's Tower

Everton’s biggest positives have been Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend. Now, that James Rodriguez is also staying, he can possibly be incorporated into the system. Yet, Everton might still struggle in squad depth.

One cannot expect James to rack up 30 appearances in a season. The last time the Colombian managed that was back in 2017-18. On the flanks, Gray, Townsend and Alex Iwobi are the options to choose from. When the heavily congested schedule arrives, Gordon will have his biggest opportunity to seize.

The 20 year old can play on the flanks too and is always filled with intent and energy. If he continues to impress Benitez, the Spanish boss may even give him sporadic appearances in the league. This could finally be the breakthrough season Gordon has been waiting for. For a 20 year old, hailing from Merseyside, playing in front of a packed Goodison will be a dream that he’ll be fantasizing about since he first started kicking the ball.

And this season, he’ll have a chance to fulfill that dream, More than once.

Next. Euro giants were ready to offer €90 million for Everton attacker with agent on standby. dark

Will Anthony Gordon shine this season?