Everton prospect Ryan Astley is leaving Marcel Brands with an easy call to make on his Goodison Park future, with the teenage prospect’s current contract due to expire next summer.
According to the Liverpool Echo, Everton chiefs will soon be forced to decide on whether or not Astley and his Under 23s teammate Con Ouzounidis have futures on Merseyside with their current deals set to expire at the end of the campaign.
Astley has previously trained with the senior side during Marco Silva’s tenure, having been promoted from the youth ranks during what proved to be the Portuguese coach’s final pre-season with the Toffees in 2019 prior to his sacking.
The 19-year-old also earned interest from Belgian side KV Kortrijk that summer but did not depart David Unsworth’s ranks, where he earned regular game time in the Premier League 2 with 14 appearances from a possible 18, of which he started 11.
Unsworth has continued to rely on the Wales U21 international this term with Astley starting all five of Everton’s youth league fixtures, and he impressed the Blues coach with his performance last time out in a goalless draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
“Ryan Astley was our best player tonight,” Unsworth told the Echo. “He was immense, not just defensively but so composed on the ball and he was a class apart.”
Astley’s efforts in the youth ranks at Finch Farm will be leaving Brands and Unsworth confident of his potential to further develop, and making it a no brainer that the 19-year-old is awarded new terms before his current contract expires.
Unsworth has had plenty of time with the 19-year-old since his graduation to the U23s in 2018, with Astley making 36 appearances for the young Blues side including games at right-back and his preferred centre-half position.
But Brands does not have months to decide on whether or not to keep the young talent, as the approaching January market will offer Astley his first window to exploring life away from Everton as he – and Ouzounidis – will be able to discuss potential free transfers with clubs outside of England.
While Astley did not feature for Wales in their UEFA European U21 Championship qualifier with Belgium earlier this month, greater exposure on the international stage will also have further showcased the defender’s worth to potential suitors after 14 outings for his national side’s U19s.