Everton have always produced a steady stream of impressive youngsters down the years, and the next superstar produced in their academy could be ready to come off the conveyor belt.
The likes of Wayne Rooney, Leon Osman and Ross Barkley have all been nurtured in the Toffees’ youth system before going on to carve out impressive careers in the senior ranks.
And now versatile forward Charlie Whitaker could be the next name to join that illustrious list of local lads to wear the famous blue of Everton.
Whitaker joined the Merseyside outfit from Blackburn Rovers aged just 12, but the teenager really started catching the eye with his impressive performances last term.
In the final game of 2020/21, Whitaker bagged a hat-trick in a 4-0 thrashing of Southampton to take his tally to five goals and two assists in just four starts since being handed his full U23s debut by manager David Unsworth.
The youth team boss lauded the attacking talent in an interview with the Liverpool ECHO shortly after, saying: “I’ve watched Charlie for a number of years, and we always knew he had the quality in flashes.
“He has played out wide, he has played up-front….but we have tried to play him as a second striker, not a number 10, a second-striker because his game is naturally dropping into spaces where you want a number 10.
“We have tried to get someone up there with him, and he has been sensational. He is a great trainer, great to work with, and a great lad.”
Despite his promising performances in several positions, the youth team coach was determined not to get too carried away with Whitaker’s contributions since making the step up from U18’s level, though.
Unsworth continued: “I have really enjoyed the last few months working with him! I really have. He does the hardest thing in the game, which is score goals, and he makes it look really easy.
“For the size of him, he is good in the air, he is brave, we just need him to link play, and the future is bright for him. I’m not getting over-excited, because you can’t, it is too early. But the signs are very, very good.”
And Whitaker has picked up where he left off last season in the opening weeks of the current campaign, bagging four goals and providing one assist in just nine appearances.
With Richarlison heavily linked with a move away from Everton over the summer, manager Rafa Benitez could unearth the Brazilian’s natural heir in the shape of 18-year-old Whitaker, someone who can play in a wide array of positions just like their energetic number 7.
However, whether he provides him with the opportunity to showcase his talent in the senior setup remains to be seen.