Everton left-back Leighton Baines has paid tribute to “strong character” Tom Davies’ maturity as a player, highlighting the midfielder’s football intelligence, ferocious work-ethic and bravery in possession.
Still just 21 years old, Davies has already racked up 112 first-team appearances for Everton, having made his senior debut in a 1-1 Premier League draw with Southampton in April 2016.
Davies’ emergence as a key squad member – as well as his leadership potential – was underlined in August 2018 when he became Everton’s youngest-ever starting captain. The Academy graduate led the Blues out in a Carabao Cup clash with Rotherham United at Goodison Park aged 20 years and 60 days.
He has skippered the Blues on a further five occasions and was handed the captaincy of England’s Under-21 team last year.
An energetic midfielder who boasts a varied passing range and the ability to make dangerous surges forward, Davies’ mental strength is identified as a further important quality by Baines.
“He already has a good understanding of football and, during games, he’ll take the ball all the time, even when things aren’t going well,” the left-back told evertonfc.com.
“He takes so much responsibility. You can’t always see that from the outside looking in, but he takes a lot of responsibility when he’s in the team and when he’s not.
“Ever since coming into the first team as such a young lad, he’ll always take the ball in difficult situations.
“He’s brave in that sense. He’s got a strong character.”
The 2019/20 season represents Baines’ 15th in the Premier League – his 13th with Everton – and he is widely recognised as one of the finest left-back’s in the history of the competition.
His 345 top-flight appearances for Everton is the third-highest in the Premier League era - only Leon Osman (352) and Tim Howard (354) have a greater total.
Baines, then, is well-versed in the dedication and sacrifice required to consistently perform at the highest level.
And the 35-year-old insists the experience Davies has already built up at senior level is testament to his professionalism.
“He’s got quite a lot of football under his belt – Premier League football – for a lad of his age. It’s not easy to do that now, as an English player.
“That says a lot about him.
“Whether he’s training or playing, he works so hard.”
The iconic Everton defender sits next to Davies in the dressing room at USM Finch Farm.
While conceding his fellow Scouser “can be fairly messy”, Baines says the pair have struck up a close friendship.
“We know each other’s characters well,” he said.
“We spend time together at the training ground and on the outside, too.
“We get on very well.”