‘He couldn’t run’: Rafa Benitez says he had doubts about 21-year-old Everton youngster due his mentality
Gordon enjoyed a breakthrough season in the Everton side last year under Frank Lampard and has got off to a brilliant start in the current campaign.
The 21-year-old is currently the Toffees’ top scorer and has bagged two goals in seven Premier League games.
But his former boss Benitez has admitted the youngster had issues with his stamina before the start of last season.
Bentiez had doubts about Gordon
“We played against Millonarios in Miami during pre-season and after 50 minutes, he couldn’t run,” Benitez told Sky Sports News.
“We knew that he was a player with quality on the ball and finishing and passing and with pace. But he couldn’t run. We had the conversation with him after the game.
“It was hot [in Miami] but he’s a young player, 50 minutes. He said ‘no I cannot, my stamina’.
“I was talking with the coaches in the academy and my assistant. He was at Preston on loan so they said ‘we are not sure’. We know that he has the talent but maybe the mentality [was not].”
Gordon spent the second-half of the 2020-21 campaign on loan at Preston North End and made 11 appearances for the Championship outfit.
Benitez was appointed as Everton boss back in June 2021, shortly after Gordon returned from his loan spell.
And the Spanish boss has revealed that Gordon worked hard to improve his mentality after initial doubts over his stamina in pre-season.
“He told me the boy, Anthony, that when he was in the national team in the under-19s, he was one of the best players,” Benitez added.
“But he was not going to the under-21s because they did not see me now, how hard I work now. He was very confident that the way that he was training was working.
“And when he was playing he was playing around 12 games in total with us. He was doing well and I was really pleased. And I am really pleased to see him progressing because he’s nice lad.
“He has to improve some parts of his game, he knows that. We were spending time with him but the main one was to change his mentality and he was very keen to do it.
“He was working really hard, he improved his stamina and he was working so hard on the pitch. He was getting better and better because he has the potential.”
Gordon reportedly attracted interest from Chelsea and Tottenham over the summer but has remained at Goodison Park.
The winger has become a mainstay in the Toffees side and already looks to have improved on his all-round game this season.
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