Yesterday, one of Everton’s most vital players in the post-Moyes era, Gareth Barry, left for West Bromwich Albion. The unheralded iron man swapped Ronald Koeman’s Toffees for Tony Pulis’ Baggies, drawing sadness and commemoration from Everton’s fans. Barry left as West Brom offered far more than playing time than Koeman’s outfit, a team which has seen four—soon to be five—midfielders arrive in the past 12 months. One of these was brought in for free, an academy product, a Merseyside-bred midfielder by the name of Tom Davies.
Tom Davies has cemented his spot in the team for years to come, with a breakout season for the books. Usually playing as a left or right interior, he isn’t the flashiest, but rather a dynamic central midfielder with great movement on and off the ball. He finished the Premier League season with 26 appearances, 2 goals, and 3 assists, but the stats aren’t what define him. It’s his movement, passing, and defensive work rate that separate him from every other English up-and-coming midfield talent.
Davies grew up on the Merseyside playing for his local school team as well as training in the Everton academy. He learned what it meant to be a winner playing in these school games, where it wasn’t necessarily about development. From a young age, all the youth coaches knew Davies was bound to be a star. He busted onto the scene and was known as a top prospect after playing in the England youth system, captaining the u16s, u17s, and now u19s. He’s a very relaxed guy and has a different style to him then you would see with most footballers. The long hair and low socks emit and old school vibe often not seen amongst teenagers.
In regards to his movement, he is similar to Dele Alli in the way he goes forward at speed, as well as his nose for goal. What epitomizes his movement was actually his first Premier League goal of his career, against Manchester City. He picks up the ball in his own defensive third and drives 50+ yards before chopping in between two Manchester City defenders. He then finds Kevin Mirallas, slips, and then moves off the ball to find a spot for a through ball. Then he shows his class by chipping the keeper. It’s one of the best goals of the season, but it starts with his sense of urgency and liveliness in the middle of the park.
Another attribute of Tom Davies’s game is his awareness. When receiving between the lines, he always knows where the defenders are behind his back and he is constantly checking his shoulder, which allows him to play quick 1-2 touch in tight spaces.
In possession, Tom Davies is a very tidy player on the ball, but a very simple player as well. Everton usually lined up in a 4-2-3-1 and Davies would play next to either Gueye or Barry, and he did well this past season in keeping the game ticking by playing short, simple passes. His strength on the ball really helps him in these situations. Davies, standing at 5”10, 154 pounds, has strength on the ball that isn’t shown in these numbers. In the attacking third, he is able to thread the needle, and he’s had some amazing passes this past season. With his high football IQ, he is able to slip in through balls to the strikers cutting in and to the striker running in on goal.
His defensive awareness is what stands out in his game. He is a very intelligent player and he is always in the right position. As a young player, it is hard to get into the team if you don’t work hard on both sides on the ball. His tackling has improved throughout the season and he is very good at reading passes and cutting off passing lanes. Every once in a while he’ll come in and leave a mark on a challenge, which shows the bite he has in his game.
Tom Davies’s influence is immense for Everton Football Club. They are always in the news with transfer rumors swirling around the club. They have the money but with the rise of the academy star Tom Davies, they will definitely not have to spend as much. Having brought in Davy Klaassen from Ajax and with Tom Cleverley coming back from loan, they have strengthened their midfield, but Davies will definitely get his time in a young Everton squad. Also with the signing of Wayne Rooney, Everton mean business this year, and look to challenge for a Champions League spot. With Davies’s contract extension until 2022, Everton will always know they have a midfield rock in their side, a homegrown man with Everton always in his heart.
By: Brevin Andreadis
Photo: Louie Hendy/@LH_BCFC