Everton’s terrible luck with injuries now has been a recurring theme for the last few seasons. Last year in September, Everton faced a dire situation of having just two fit centre backs as Mason Holgate and Jarrad Branthwaite were out injured. The Toffees managed to splash some cash and sign Ben Godfrey.
Godfrey arrived from Norwich City for a fee of £25 million including add-ons. Many deemed him as a panic buy considering Everton’s failure to land Gabriel and other central defence targets. It has taken less than a season to suppress that notion as Godfrey has emerged as one of the best performers in the team.
Godfrey was thrown into a battlefield for his debut, coming on as a substitute for Seamus Coleman in the Merseyside derby and the Englishman put on a brilliant show. In his first season at Goodison Park, the 23 year old featured in 39 games and was a key part of Carlo Ancelotti’s plans.
In the quartet of Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Holgate and Godfrey, the Englishman was the best in most of the defensive metrics. The former Norwich City man recorded 1.88 tackles, 12.4 pressures, 2.85 blocks and 1.51 interceptions and 0 errors per 90 minutes. He ranked the best in pressures, blocks and making the least errors. Godfrey ranked second best in tackles and interceptions. (stats via FBref)
Ben Godfrey has been a huge asset for Everton
Godfrey’s athleticism is one of his strongest traits. If Everton arranges a 100 metre dash at Finch Farm, there’s a high chance that Godfrey will outpace all. Maybe perhaps only Dominic Calvert-Lewin can give him a run for his money. He’s one of the fastest centre backs in the Premier League and is known for making up ground in no time. Thanks to his speed, Godfrey recovers well which allows him to cover a larger space.
The 23 year old is a perfect blend of aggression and athleticism. His robustness and aggressive defending style mean he’s never afraid to lunge and make tackles. His meaty tackles have often garnered praise on social media. Godfrey keeps his engines running for almost the entire game which is why we rarely see him tired or fatigued.
Godfrey’s versatility is his greatest asset. Throughout last season, the former Norwich City man played everywhere across the back four, as a centre back, as a left back and as a right back. He even slotted in a three man defence and did an exceptional job, never running out of gas.
This season, under Rafa Benitez, Godfrey will be aiming to further improve his performances and stake his claim as a core player of the team. So far, he’s been magnificent and seems to have won Benitez’s confidence.
The former Valencia boss is yet to finalize his preferred centre back paring as he has often chopped and changed combinations. According to Liverpool Echo, Godfrey is expected to be Rafa’s first choice once he’s fully fit and all defenders are available. At the moment, he is deputizing for the injured Seamus Coleman at right back.
The 23 year old has ticked all boxes and has quickly become one of the most reliable players in the squad. He has shown leadership of the best quality and is a vocal presence in the backline. For someone as young as him, it is a rare trait.
Ben Godfrey has Everton future captain written all over him. The £25 million invested in the centre back is turning out to be one of the wisest and rewarding investments for Everton.