Why Manchester United’s Future May Not Be as Bright as Everton’s

Lookman and Calvert-Lewin
Ademola Lookman, left, and Calvert-Lewin in Jeonju, May 31. KIM DOO-HO/AFP/Getty

In the second week of June, a window into the future of Premier League football cracked open. The under-20 World Cup, held in South Korea, gave a small insight into which youth academies in English football’s top tier are thriving, and which are stalling.

England’s triumph over Venezuela in the final, on June 11, suggests that the nation can be more optimistic about its future on the international stage, after a lean few decades, with the side having won just six knockout games at major tournaments since its 1966 World Cup victory. At the heart of that promise is Everton.

In the final of the U20s tournament, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the 20-year-old forward, scored the only goal of the game that turned out to be the crucial goal of the tournament. Calvert-Lewin was one of four Everton players to be selected in coach Paul Simpson’s starting XI, with fellow Evertonian Callum Connolly on the substitutes’ bench.

Connolly and Calvert-Lewin were joined by Jonjoe Kenny, Ademola Lookman and Kieran Dowell in representing the Everton academy. Only Independiente del Valle (6) of Ecuador, Al-Ahli (7) of Saudi Arabia and Benfica B (8) of Portugal had more players than Everton at the tournament.

In the Premier League, the closest team to Everton was Liverpool with four players represented. Sheyi Ojo came off the bench in the final for England while Nicolas De La Cruz scored twice for Uruguay.

U20 World Cup Newsweek Research

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Premier League champion Chelsea had three players representing the club in South Korea, but that looks likely to fall to two. Fikayo Tomori, Jake Clarke-Salter and Dominic Solanke were all selected in Simpson’s squad, with Solanke named player of the tournament, following in Paul Pogba and Lionel Messi’s footsteps. But he’s also heading in the direction of the exit at Stamford Bridge, with Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp his destination as he seeks first-team opportunities, according to the BBC.

A lack of youth prospects has been Chelsea’s problem for years, with John Terry, the former captain who left the club after 22 years this summer, being the last player from the academy to establish himself in the first team. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has tried. Nathaniel Chalobah, too. How long will Tomori and Clarke-Salter give it to break through?

Worryingly for Manchester United, it had just one player representing the club at the tournament. Dean Henderson was the deputy goalkeeper to Newcastle United’s Freddie Woodman, but the 20-year-old made just one appearance.

Fortunately for United, it has the wealth to be able to spend £90 million on players like Paul Pogba. But for England, it is relying on the academies like Everton’s to produce players to end the 50 years of hurt.