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25th Jul 2019

History suggests Everton will regret short-term thinking behind Ademola Lookman sale

Everton have sold young winger Ademola Lookman to RB Leipzig for £22, but they may live to regret this example of short-term thinking

Reuben Pinder

Everton would apparently rather play a 30-year-old Theo Walcott than keep hold of one of England’s brightest prospects

The Premier League is a ruthless beast. Managers are under threat of being sacked if results take a slight dip, so daunting is the threat of relegation or, heaven forbid, finishing outside the top ten due to the astronomical money swirling round the English top flight.

For context, the average tenure of a football manager in England has approximately halved over the past 50 years.

This has fostered a culture of short-term thinking among club boards that sees promising youngsters sold off and ‘Premier League proven’ players prioritised. Basically, managers are less willing to take risks.

The most recent example of such thinking can be seen in Everton’s decision to sell 21-year-old Ademola Lookman to RB Leipzig for £22m. Lookman has shown great promise when given the chance in the Premier League, displaying the sort of instinctive and innovative dribbling that can prove vital in breaking down deep defences. His loan spell at RB Leipzig in 2017/18 also demonstrated that he can use this talent to affect games, as he scored five goals in 11 matches.

And at 21, he has plenty of time to refine the rougher aspects of his game. Despite this, Everton would seemingly rather persist with a 30-year-old Theo Walcott on the right wing, rather than put their trust in one of England’s brightest talents.

It is a move that would make more sense for a club competing for the league or battling relegation, for whom the stakes are higher. But for a club like Everton, dwindling in the upper mid-table abyss, it leaves a sour taste.

What do Everton have to gain by selling a player with such potential for a relatively small fee, other than the guarantee of five goals in 32 matches from Walcott?

This transfer is yet another reminder of the stark contrast in attitude towards bleeding youth through between Premier League clubs and their German counterparts. The silver lining for those of us who wish to see Lookman progress is that Bundesliga clubs seem more than willing to take our frustrated youngsters and give them the opportunities they deserve rather than leaving them to waste away their youth sitting on Premier League benches in coats way too big for them.

Everton may well be selling Lookman to fund a bid for Wilfried Zaha, as has been mooted on social media in the past 24 hours. But even that represents the same short-term thinking that has pervaded the Premier League even from clubs who have nothing to gain from it.

If Lookman’s move to Germany follows the same path as Jadon Sancho – which, admittedly, it may not – the usual suspects (Manchester United) will be coming back in a year or two and bid £80m for him.

Everton have made what they think is a financially savvy decision, but would it not have benefitted everyone, both on the pitch and in their pockets, to cut out the middle man, play him, and make four times as much money in a couple of years’ time? Or even – now hold onto your hats here – keep him, play him, develop him into one of the best wingers in the league, and become a better team as a result?