Everton are extremely proud when it comes to their academy but over the last 12 months, they’ve experienced some problems.
Their young players are beginning to close the door on Finch Farm and walk away just as they move closer to gaining a first-team breakthrough.
That was the case for Thierry Small who rejected a contract, refused to turn up for training and then joined Southampton.
However, Goodison Park remains an attractive place for the stars of tomorrow to come.
While they may lose some budding prodigies, Marcel Brands has tried to repair some of the holes that have emerged in the Everton academy.
That began last week when the Toffees completed a £1m move to sign Francis Okoronkwo.
The attacker was at Sunderland before he was poached away by Rafa Benitez’s men in an exciting move for the youngster.
A quick forward with the ability to play all across the frontline, he has been on the Everton radar for a while now.
What provoked them to entertain a move was a clash with Sunderland last season.
The U18s faced the Black Cats at the end of last term and it was Okoronkwo who caught the eye the most, scoring against them in a 4-3 win.
Everton have eventually signed him and he looks a wonderful capture.
Aged just 17, it could be a while before we see him in the first team but there are certainly openings available.
Anthony Gordon has gained match time under Benitez this season while Ellis Simms has also appeared on the bench with Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin out injured.
The thought of Okoronwko appearing alongside the latter is a thought to behold.
After all, some of his characteristics are similar to the England international. Sources have described the teenager’s game as “powerful” and “quick” to the Liverpool Echo.
The best review given to the outlet, however, was about his form in 2020/21: “[He was] one of the best players in that age group,” they said.
Capable of making darting runs, terrifying defenders and scoring goals, the young attacker looks like someone to get excited about.
His play combined with someone as ruthless as Calvert-Lewin provides plenty of hope for the future at Everton.