Carlo Ancelotti could discover his dream midfield pairing by unleashing Isaac Price as the Everton product seemingly nears his senior debut.
The 17-year-old was named on the bench at Brighton & Hove Albion as the Blues were held to a draw on Monday night for his first taste of a first-team matchday, as Ancelotti sought to manage an injury-ravished squad.
But while injuries may have helped his sudden promotion, the Liverpool Echo have claimed that Ancelotti would not have included Price if he did not believe the teenager was ready for the challenge.
Ancelotti is understood to have been impressed by how Price has been performing in first-team training sessions ever since he first joined the Italian’s fold earlier this month, and sought to reward those efforts with a seat on the bench at the Amex Stadium.
It marked the latest step in a continued rapid rise for the Northern Ireland youth international, who only signed his first professional contract just over six months ago.
Price impressed club figures with his efforts in Paul Tait’s Under 18s quickly enough that he was awarded his U23s debut by David Unsworth this January, and is already now pushing the fringes of the first-team fold.
Price also has a further keen supporter in Everton legend Leighton Baines, who is noted to have helped the leggy midfielder settle both socially and professionally as he made the step up from U18s to U23s and now the first-team.
Unsworth now expects Price to be given further opportunities to impress Ancelotti, and is excited to see how the youngster continues to develop.
“Isaac is a box-to-box midfielder. He is a great passer, he’s got a bit of everything,” Unsworth said. “He still has to develop physically, as you can see, he’s not the finished article physically, but that will come.
“That’s just time, hours and hours in the gym, which he already does on his own individual programme. That’s something that will come naturally in time.
“Another pre-season will help him, whether that is with us or the first-team, it really doesn’t matter. It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to working with him next season.”
But Ancelotti looking to unleash Price much sooner than the summer could see the Everton boss begin to discover potentially his dream midfield unit, and realising that his ideal Andre Gomes upgrade is already at Finch Farm.
The characteristics that Unsworth praises Price for in being a box-to-box presence with “a bit of everything” echoes similar claims that Ancelotti has previously laid at Abdoulaye Doucoure, his £20m summer signing from Watford.
“Abdoulaye is a fantastic midfielder, a complete midfielder,” Ancelotti said, via quotes by FourFourTwo, earlier in the season. “He can defend well. He is a box-to-box midfielder. He can bring energy to the club and a different quality.
“We don’t have midfielders with his kinds of characteristics. We have midfielders with quality and midfielders who are tactically good. He is the only one who is box-to-box.”
Ancelotti may soon get the chance to see a pairing of Doucoure and Price in training with the Frenchman expected to overcome his fractured foot to play again this season, which could see the Everton boss discover a box office unit if the youngster is unleashed.
AND in other news, an “outstanding” talent is keen to join Everton this summer, but there’s a hitch…