Everton could be set to repeat their Thierry Small disaster after reportedly making no progress in their attempts to tie Lewis Dobbin down to a new contract.
According to The Athletic’s Patrick Boyland, the 18-year-old could depart Goodison Park next summer, with his current deal set to expire at the end of July and fresh terms yet to be agreed.
The report states that: “He is set to be out of contract next July, with talks yet to resume since Everton’s initial offer made earlier this season.
“As things stand, the impasse means Dobbin would be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with clubs in continental Europe from January 1. Failing that, he would be able to move to a fellow English club when his deal expires this summer.”
Unless Dobbin puts pen to paper soon, the growing fear that the teenager may follow in the footsteps of former teammate Small could become a reality.
Small was one of Everton’s brightest prospects in recent years, becoming the club’s youngest-ever player in an FA Cup fourth-round tie against Sheffield Wednesday, aged just 16 years and 176.
However, the full-back failed to return to Merseyside for pre-season training over the summer after making his intentions to leave clear, signing professional terms for Southampton after exiting his academy scholarship 12 months early.
And now, the Everton hierarchy could be about to make the same mistake all over again.
Dobbin has been one of the Toffees’ U23s standout performers this season and put in a stellar display against Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, bagging his second goal of the campaign in a 2-1 victory.
Preventing Everton’s top young stars from seeking pastures new needs to become a priority for director of football Marcel Brands, and the Dutchman will be desperate to start that process with Dobbin.
It remains to be seen if Brands can convince the versatile forward to commit his future to the club, but the fanbase will be hoping Small’s exit doesn’t pave the way for a mass exodus.