Everton face a battle to keep hold of young full-back Thierry Small, as reports suggest there is interest from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal.
Small became Everton’s youngest ever player when he made his senior debut as a 16-year-old in January. He wasn’t on the pitch for long but is expected to have a bright future. However, that may lie away from Merseyside.
According to the Daily Express, Arsenal and Man Utd are among the teams following Small. The left-back is yet to agree professional terms with Everton.
The Toffees are keen to keep the teen talent and have long since put a three-year contract offer on the table. However, Small is considering his options.
There have been limited options for progression since his debut a few months ago. To break into the first team, he would have to overtake Niels Nkounkou, who is currently back-up to Lucas Digne, in the pecking order.
Therefore, he wants to carefully consider his best pathway into senior football.
He may have the opportunity to fulfil his potential elsewhere. It is claimed that, alongside Man Utd and Arsenal, there is also interest from Brighton and Brentford.
Small would even be willing to turn down United or Arsenal if he found that they too would not be able to guarantee him what he requires for his development.
Bayern Munich could also try to lure him to Germany, a country that has given several young players a platform in recent years. However, regulations arising from Brexit would make that deal almost impossible.
Therefore, Brighton or Brentford could be his preferred destinations – although Leeds are also showing an interest.
Leeds are on the lookout for new options at left-back as Ezgjan Alioski prepares to leave as a free agent. Therefore, they would be willing to offer Small a first-team role straight away.
There is still one year left to run on Small’s scholarship deal, so Everton would be due compensation of around £1m if anyone was to prise him away.
Small sacrifices for Everton debut
After making his debut at the start of the year, Small spoke about the steps he had taken to make the grade at Everton.
“It still hasn’t sunk in properly; it’s one of the best feelings I’ve had in my life, making my family proud after all the hard work we’ve had to put in through the years and the sacrifices,” Small told evertontv.
“I had to move away from home at the age of 11, that was hard. It is character building; it matured me as a player and I am grateful Carlo Ancelotti gave me the opportunity to play.
“I was itching to get on and when Dunc (assistant manager Duncan Ferguson) told me, I can’t describe the feeling.
“It is everything I have dreamed of since I was a young boy. It is just crazy.”