He might have gone about it quietly, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin has begun the 2017/2018 season in outstanding form. For all the money Everton has spent this summer, one of their brightest assets was already wearing blue – and Ronald Koeman will be loving it.
A year or so ago, the loss of Seamus Coleman or Ross Barkley would have been an unmitigated disaster for Everton. Back then, the Republic of Ireland international had started the 2016/2017 season with some impressive displays, reinforcing his reputation as first choice right-back (or right wing-back) in Koeman’s team.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been involved in both goals scored by Everton when he has played this season. Bright future. 💪🏽🔵 pic.twitter.com/uCGQxos3dz
— ⚽️ (@timeforfooty) August 13, 2017
But in March 2017, Coleman suffered a horrific double leg break to rule him out of action for at least six months. In turn, Barkley began the last campaign with a goal and assist in his opening two league games and was almost ever-present for Everton until things turned sour and he fell out of favour this summer.
A year or so ago, Everton signed Calvert-Lewin from Sheffield United for £500,000 on transfer deadline day – a fee potentially rising to £1.5m with add-ons. Now back in the present day, thank goodness that they did.
With the continued absences of Coleman and Barkley, Calvert-Lewin has been deployed in their stead during both of Everton’s Premier League games this season. For the opening day 1-0 victory against Stoke City, he started at right wing-back. The Potters targeted the young man early on, lofting balls in behind and forcing him to defend while facing his own goal, but he stood resilient and dropped deeper when his sides were without the ball to eradicate such a ploy. Calvert-Lewin then provided a stunning cross for Wayne Rooney’s winning goal as Koeman’s plan to find him space down the Stoke left worked wonders.
Rooney strikes. Life in the old dog yet. Great play too from puppy, Calvert-Lewin. He's been superb, intelligent and rapid in a tough role.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 21, 2017
The Dutchman then moved his young protégé to a more favoured role up top alongside Rooney during the second half, when Everton were unlucky not to double their advantage. It was in this position that Calvert-Lewin also started Monday’s game at Manchester City. Once again, he provided an excellent low cross for his strike partner to convert through and beyond the hapless Ederson. Acting as a constant menace to an uncertain-looking City backline for the duration of the 1-1 draw, he drew praise from Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher on Sky’s Monday Night Football as well as from his manager.
“Maybe he did one of his best games tonight. He made it really difficult for the defenders of City with his pace, his strength and his headers. He showed tonight that number nine is his best position.”
Ronald Koeman on Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Effusive praise indeed. But then two crosses to assist two Rooney goals is exactly what the Dutchman would have wanted.
The way Calvert-Lewin bullied Nicolas Otamendi in particular provided echoes of the man he effectively replaced, Romelu Lukaku, and it is not difficult to see why Everton coaches think their man has got it all with a very bright future ahead of him. With pace and strength in abundance, Calvert-Lewin is willing and able to run in behind but also hold the ball up while waiting for others. For someone so young, both these quality aspects of his play are already striking and mark him out from others of the same age.
When surrounded by the likes of Rooney, Davy Klaassen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Sandro Ramirez, the youngster’s learning trajectory should be exponential. His strengths also suggest a more rigid future as a forward and may mitigate any further moves from Everton in that area during the final week of the transfer window to come.
It is easy to forget, too, that Calvert-Lewin was a significant part of the England U20 success in South Korea this summer, scoring in the final against Venezuela. Some may think it is too soon, but with the first senior England squad of the season on the horizon after this weekend’s round of Premier League fixtures, his name will surely be in Gareth Southgate’s discussions at the very least.
One thing is for sure: Coleman and Barkley or no Coleman and Barkley, right wing-back or line-leading striker – wherever this young man plays, chances are he will make a rather good fist of it. And he’ll be around for a long while yet.