Tom Davies wants to be an inspiration to Everton’s Academy players, just as Ross Barkley and Wayne Rooney were to him, as the 18-year-old from West Derby signed a new five-year deal with the Club to the end of June 2022.
The dynamic midfielder has become established in Ronald Koeman’s first-team squad this season, making 17 appearances in all competitions, including 10 Premier League starts.
The Dutch manager has insisted he is “not afraid to give young players opportunities at Everton”, with Davies being one of five Academy graduates to have made their Premier League debuts for Everton in the past year alongside Kieran Dowell, Callum Connolly, Matthew Pennington and Jonjoe Kenny. Mason Holgate, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman, who are all under the age of 21, have also been given their first-team chance under Koeman.
Davies made his first-team debut as a substitute against Koeman’s Southampton in April last year before starting the final game of the 2015/16 season when the Blues secured a 3-0 win over Norwich City under caretaker manager David Unsworth who has mentored the young midfielder in the Everton’s Under-23s.
He was a key figure under Koeman in pre-season, appearing in all but one of the Club’s summer friendlies as cameos against Stoke, Sunderland and Chelsea followed in the first-half of the 2016/17 campaign.
But it was the teenager’s inclusion in the starting XI for the 2-0 win at champions Leicester City on Boxing Day that sparked a run which has seen him feature in every first-team game since, Koeman’s men climbing to seventh in the Premier League table in the process and putting together a 2017 points tally matched only by Tottenham Hotspur.
“It means everything to me to get a chance to be in the Everton first team and to try to stay there,” Davies said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.
“Everton has a long tradition of bringing young players through and the incentive has always been there for me to try to progress with the Club.
“I used to look at Mikel Arteta and aspire to be out there playing alongside my heroes and, obviously, Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley who came through the Academy here, too, have been inspirational figures for me.
“Hopefully, young players in the Academy now can see how I have been able to progress and make my way to the Everton first team, just as Matty, Callum, Kieran and Jonjoe have also done, but we all know that the hard work doesn’t stop because we want to be part of taking the Club to the next level as well.
“We’ve had some big results this season and we’re fighting for a European place in the Premier League and we want to help get Everton to where the Club needs to be and where the supporters want us to be.
“People like David Unsworth have been great in helping me and other players to develop our game and become Everton players and it’s a privilege to be playing under this manager with everything he’s done and achieved in the game. I’m learning more and improving every day and I’m delighted to have been given this opportunity by the Club.”
Koeman believes Davies is the young player who has improved the most at the Club this season.
The Everton manager said: “It’s a case of well done, Tom.
“He is maybe the young player who has improved the most in the last few months. He went straight into the team performing at a high level and has kept his feet on the ground.
“We’re really happy with his performances and, of course, proud. He’s a young player and that’s important for the rest of the Academy - to show you can make that next step like Tom did and, if that ends with a new contract, it’s perfect.”