Swedish protégé Imam Jagne was one of the first young players to be
snapped up by Everton after their ban on such youth transfers expired in
2020 and the Blues completed a £1.3m deal with BK Häcken for the talented
teenager. He signed a 3-year contract and was eligible to
play once his minor application was approved.
Born in the Gambia before his family moved to
Sweden when he was 5, Jagne was described as a "superkid"
who can operate across midfield. The then 17-year-old went straight into
David Unsworth's Under-23s side.
“Here at Everton, the environment is so good. They have let me know,
if I need anything, they are absolutely there for me," said Jagne at the time. “With how they’ve looked after me, the Club has made my family
comfortable back home. It is such a caring club, with very humble
“I feel like
the coaches believe in me so much. Unsy, Franny and John are brilliant.
If there is anything I don’t understand, I know I can go to them
directly and ask them. I just want to learn as much as I can from them and my teammates. I
am more than convinced I made the right decision to come to Everton.”
Indeed early on, David Unsworth was full of expectation for him:
"I'd seen enough to form an opinion of him but obviously the
recruitment department do the bulk of the work. He's a great guy. He's a great learner. He's very coachable and I'm looking forward to
working with him for the next couple of years.
"I'd say when he develops and matures he will be more of a box-to-box
midfielder. He's got great energy and you don't want to bog him down
into a holding midfield role.
"I think he can play in all of the midfield roles centrally; in a
two, he can hold, and he can play wide of the three. There's loads and
loads of development in there and he's certainly one for the future."
However, things did not develop along the expected upward trajectory – far
from it as he was sitting on the subs bench and unable to impress at all
in short stints at the end of games.
Jagne was eventually moved from the U23 squad
to join his contemporaries in the Under-18 squad at the turn
of 2021, an indication that the initial assessment that he was ready for the oldest development squad had been premature.
After getting 5 starts at that level, but only completing one game
without being substituted, he was further relegated to the U18s subs
bench for a spell in what turned out to be quite a traumatic first
season with the Everton Academy. He got to play more games in his second season but they
would all be at U18 level, with no risk taken to try him again in the
In the third and final year of his contract there was no sign of
him playing any games for the Academy. In late October 2022, it was finally
reported that he had terminated his 3-year contract by mutual agreement
with the club over the summer of 2022, choosing to return to Sweden in search of more regular football.
“I felt that I stopped developing,” Jagne explained. “I simply needed to come home and enjoy football again. When it gets
to the point where it’s no longer fun, then there’s no point in
“I got quite a lot of playing time in the U18s. I played almost every
game and it felt good. (But) I also feel that I need to take the step
into senior football. I feel there is no point in staying (at Everton)
if I can’t get it.
“(Leaving) was a joint decision. We negotiated a bit and, in the end,
we agreed. It felt good for all parties. They were really kind and saw
it from my perspective, which was that I wanted to develop and play
senior football. They were very supportive.”
At just 19, he returned to BK Häcken in
Gothenburg to train with their first team.
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