Jonjoe Kenny is aiming to return to Everton a “better player” after he spends next season with German powerhouse Schalke 04.
Everton Academy graduate Kenny, who has made 40 appearances for the Blues since his senior debut in May 2016, has joined the seven-times German champions on loan for 2019-20.
The right-back is following a path trodden by a host of his young international contemporaries in the past two years.
English players Jadon Sancho, Reiss Nelson and Reece Oxford have all thrived in the Bundesliga. Kenny’s clubmate Ademola Lookman spent the second half of 2017-18 with German top-flight team RB Leipzig.
Kenny, then, was eager to seize the opportunity of advancing his own football education with a Schalke side under the charge of David Wagner, the manager who oversaw Huddersfield Town’s promotion to the Premier League in 2016-17 following a 45-year top-flight exile.
“It was a big decision for me but Schalke is a massive club and an opportunity I could not turn down,” said Kenny, currently with England Under-21s at the European Championship finals.
“I think I will go there and learn a lot about myself and I want to come back a better player.
“Schalke has a huge fanbase and history and a fantastic manager in David Wagner who I know from the Premier League.
“He was another massive reason for me to go there. He came across as a great manager in England with what he did taking Huddersfield into the Premier League.”
Arsenal forward Nelson, another member of the Young Lions party in Italy, scored seven goals for Hoffenheim during a season-long loan last term.
Sancho, meanwhile, has earned promotion to England’s senior squad after excelling for Borussia Dortmund following his transfer from Manchester City.
“Reiss Nelson wanted game time and he’s gone and shown how good he is and scored a good few goals,” said Kenny.
“Jadon Sancho is a massive star now. He is playing at Borussia Dortmund, one of the top teams in Europe.
“These aren’t just any old teams.
“They are top, top teams and Schalke is one of them – and that is why I could not turn them down.
“I am looking forward to learning the language and experiencing the German lifestyle.”
Kenny was an unused substitute as England Under-21s were sunk by two late goals against France on Tuesday.
That 2-1 defeat leaves Aidy Boothroyd's side needing to win their remaining group games against Romania and Croatia to retain any realistic hope of reaching the semi-finals.
The Young Lions’ cause against France was damaged by the 65th-minute dismissal of Hamza Choudhury.
Leicester City midfielder Choudhury saw his yellow card for a foul tackle upgraded to a red following a VAR review when England led 1-0.
And Kenny saw enough in his team’s football as they initially exerted a grip on the contest – and secured their advantage – to remain upbeat ahead of Friday’s meeting with the Romanians.
“I thought we played fantastically, there were some brilliant performances and very good passages of play," added Kenny.
“We started the match very well, then when we got the goal we looked very strong and set to go on and win. There are a lot of positives to take into a massive game Friday.
“We have had a plan from the word go. Nothing will change, we will stick to what we know and how we play.”