Carlo Ancelotti says “fighter” Mason Holgate is a “complete defender” and owns all the necessary attributes to reach the pinnacle of his profession.
Holgate committed his future to Everton this week when he signed a new five-year contract – and manager Ancelotti insists the Club have pulled off a coup tying down the 23-year-old until at least summer 2025.
Ancelotti – who sees in Holgate a “potential” Everton captain – confessed he was taken aback by the player's quality after being appointed manager in December last year.
Centre-back Holgate has become a fixture in Ancelotti’s side, starting 10 of the Italian’s 11 matches and missing out only when he was rested for last month’s encounter with Crystal Palace.
“I did not know Mason before I came here and I was surprised by him,” Ancelotti told evertonfc.com.
“He showed in this period a lot of quality defensively, he is really focused in his defensive work.
“He has the quality to be at the top as a defender.
“He is fast, strong physically and good with his head.
“He is a complete defender.
“He is really young and wants to improve.
“He has made no mistakes in the games [under Ancelotti], nothing serious.
“If he retains his focus, he can go to the top.
“I think he is going to have a fantastic career.”
The assured Holgate has earned a mountain of plaudits for his barnstorming form since muscling into Everton’s team four months ago.
His athleticism, speed, accurate distribution and astute reading of the game have all attracted praise from beyond the borders of Goodison Park.
He wins extra popularity among Evertonians for a competitive spirit and, in Holgate’s words, desire to “stand up strong” for the Club.
And Ancelotti insists the sustained improvement we are witnessing in Holgate on matchdays is a product of the Englishman's commitment and concentration away from the public glare.
“He is focused on learning and improving,” said Ancelotti.
“I am really happy with the attitude he shows both in games and in training.
“He is really competitive. He is a fighter. But to be a fighter, you have to use this quality in the right way.
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HOLGATE ON REASONS FOR PLEDGING FUTURE TO EVERTON
“He has to improve, of course, and he is going to improve.
“He is really focused in training.
On the technically-adept Holgate’s polished passing from defence and its ability to influence Everton’s offensive play, Ancelotti continued: “It is important he can show ability with the ball.
“If you want to play a good style of football, which is our aim, it is important the defenders can build up from the back with confidence.
“But the best attribute for a defender is to defend."
Holgate returned for pre-season last summer vowing to kick-start his Everton career following a successful loan at West Bromwich Albion.
He has added 26 appearances this term to the 48 he made for the Club between signing from Barnsley in August 2015 and switching to Championship West Brom for the second half of last season.
And Holgate crowned his resurgence by joining the trio of 22-year-old Richarlison, Tom Davies, 21, and Jordan Pickford, who turns 26 on Saturday, in pledging a fair proportion of his peak years to the Club.
“It is good for Everton when a young player really believes this a good club and good team and wants to be here," added Ancelotti.
“The fact Mason renewed his contract means the Club has a really clear idea what it wants to do and this is important.
“Mason can be one of the top defenders, in my opinion.
“Is he a future Everton captain? Potentially, yes.”