Noel Whelan has told Football Insider that it’s ‘sad’ to see that Thierry Small could leave Everton.
The publication reported last week that week that Everton had given the 17-year-old the green light to speak with potential suitors after he rejected ‘very generous’ professional terms at Goodison Park. Southampton have become the first club to make an approach, and it’s thought that any deal could involve a compensation fee of as much as £5m.
The likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Arsenal are interested too, but Small wants to be playing first team football ‘straight away’.
The 17-year-old left-back has made 13 appearances for Everton’s under-23s and earned a senior debut in an FA Cup fourth round meeting with Sheffield Wednesday in January, becoming the Blues’ youngest-ever player.
Former Leeds United striker Whelan would prefer to see Small remain with the club who have been ‘nurturing’ him, but admitted that it ultimately comes down to the youngster’s starting prospects.
“It is a bit of a kick in the teeth but it’s at that stage where you know you could lose a player,” he told Football Insider.
“At the same time, a player needs to feel that he’s got a pathway through. Something that’s going to give him a better opportunity
“It is sad because you’d like them to stay with the club that has brought them up and spent time nurturing them to this point.
“It is a bit of a kick in the teeth. I’d much prefer to see a young lad stay at the club but there’s not much you can do at that age.”
Is Small’s position understandable? Lucas Digne is the resident left-back at Goodison Park, and given that he’s only 28, he could have that berth tied down for another five years or do. Indeed, the Frenchman penned a new deal as recently as February.
Five years down the line, Small would still only be 22, but clearly he feels that he’s already too good to accept the role of Digne’s long-term successor.
He’ll no doubt have noticed 18-year-old Tino Livramento’s instant integration into the Saints’ starting line-up following his move from Chelsea and may view St Mary’s as the place where his ambitions can be realised.
In other news, Everton are on the trail of this defender.
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