Everton have one of the best youth academies in English football, which has produced talent such as Wayne Rooney, Ross Barkley, Mason Holgate, Jack Rodwell, Shane Duffy and Tom Davies to name only a few.
They are a club that is willing to place faith in the young players coming through at their club and they deserve a lot of credit for that as similar opportunities aren’t always available at other Premier League clubs.
The next player to make a name for himself could be Kieran Dowell, who is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest. He has already made two appearances for the Everton first-team, but it was thought his development would be better served elsewhere.
Although the Championship side aren’t having the best of seasons, the midfielder has stood out and been an influential figure for them.
Dowell has been used in a variety of roles within the Forest line-up, which shows his versatility at a young age. He has mainly been used as an attacking midfielder centrally, but he is able to play on the left and right if required.
The 20-year-old has good vision and is able to pick a pass in the final third, while he thrives when operating in tight spaces. That was shown best in his recent performance for England Under-21s as he twice played backheel passes to get a team-mate in on goal.
His record for Nottingham Forest has been impressive this season considering the team have been struggling at the wrong end of the table. The Everton loanee has contributed nine goals and four assists. He currently ranks as the club’s top scorer in the league.
Dowell’s underlying stats are also very good, as he averages 2.35 attempted shots and 2.05 chances created per ninety minutes. The attacking midfielder carries a goal threat and has creativity, which makes him a decent option to have in a squad.
There are weaknesses in his game as one would expect from a 20-year-old, but this season has been a positive one in his development and he looks to be ready for a shot at the Premier League.
Everton are well stocked in the attacking midfield positions and the worries about Dowell’s physicality could prevent him from playing for the Toffees’ next season.
Recently, he was asked about the possibility of returning to Forest for another season and his response suggested that his future was far from clear. The Liverpool Echo reported the following quotes:
“I’ll see what happens in the summer. Obviously, if I’m in Everton’s plans then I’d love it, but if not I wouldn’t rule it out.”
The uncertainty over the future direction of Everton means it is difficult to predict what next season holds for Dowell.
He wouldn’t be a great fit for a Sam Allardyce team due to his lack of defensive contribution and lack of physicality. However, a different manager may see his talent and want to find a way to fit him into the first-team squad.
His versatility is an advantage for him here as he can play a number of positions in midfield. That coupled with his homegrown status may see him return to Goodison Park next season and continue his development there.
Regardless of whether Dowell will play for Everton in the next 12-months of not, it is clear that the club have another talented academy graduate in their ranks and that is a positive for them.