Carlo Ancelotti could have Everton’s new Idrissa Gana Gueye on in his hands in academy product Lewis Warrington.
Warrington was given his breakthrough at home to Blackburn Rovers in a 2-1 win and stayed in the fold for Monday’s 2-1 loss to an experienced West Ham United side, that saw Unsworth’s team stay seventh in the Premier League 2.
Warrington impressed in his U23s debut against Blackburn while in a screening midfield role tasked with protecting the Toffees backline, but had shown in the U18s that he can get up the pitch and offer the final touch.
In 17 outings in the U18 Premier League this term, the 5 ft 11 prospect offered three goals and one assist, while captaining the side on three occasions and only missing a single fixture before being promoted to the U23s.
He also started and played at least 89 minutes in three of Everton’s FA Youth Cup ties this season, which saw the junior Toffees side eliminate Wigan Athletic, Manchester City and Chelsea from the competition.
Yet it was in the screening role against Blackburn that Warrington earned Unsworth’s praise, with the U23s boss describing his performance as “terrific” and noting that he was “very, very proud” to see him step up to the challenge.
Warrington now establishing himself in the U23s over the final fixtures of the season could see Ancelotti start to take a keen interest in his development, as the youngster – described by Everton’s official website as ‘a gifted all-round midfielder’ who ‘boasts impressive vision and imagination’ – could prove to be the Goodison Park natives next Gueye.
Gueye was one of the Premier League’s standout midfielders during his three seasons on Merseyside, with The Telegraph dubbing him a ‘budget N’Golo Kante’ after topping the tackling charts at the end of his debut campaign.
The 74-cap international also ranked sixth across the division in his final year at Goodison Park for interceptions with 74, and was sold that summer to Paris Saint-Germain for £30m and replaced by 1.FSV Mainz 05 midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin in a £25m deal.
But Toffees supporters have only been able to see Gbamin on the field on three occasions over the past two campaigns due to quadricep and Achilles injuries that required surgeries and months of rehabilitation, and is again sidelined with a knee problem.
It remains to be seen if the Ivorian will ever be able to establish himself as Everton’s new Gueye, with Warrington now on his way through the ranks and earning praise as he continues to develop.