Emilio Lawrence: another one that got away?

23/07/2022 42comments  |  Jump to last
At some point last week, or possibly the week before, Manchester City completed a massive coup by signing up 16-year-old Emilio Lawrence from Everton's Academy.

Or maybe it is still to be confirmed, based on this tweet:

Perhaps one of the highest-rated young prospects to come through the Everton Academy for many years, Emilio Lawrence has been enticed away to join Manchester City, after spending the last 8 years working his way up as a stellar performer with all age levels at Finch Farm.

He made his first appearances for the U18s as a 14-year-old toward the end of the 2020-21 season, scoring his first goal in a 3-1 win at Wolves, and has played for his native Scotland at U17 level.

Emilio appeared for Everton in the FA Youth Cup as a 15-year-old Schoolboy. He is clearly a very talented and highly regarded footballer who could make the grade in a variety of positions, as a winger, an attacking midfielder and also striker.

He was arguably Everton's Player of the Season for the U18s in the 2021-22 season; the teenager was instrumental in the side's good run of form. Lawrence's qualities are his ability to manipulate the ball past defenders with ease, and his eye for a defence-splitting pass.

Although just 16 years old in his final season at Everton, the teenager seemed to be the outstanding forward on the pitch with almost every game he played. His bravery to receive the ball in tight situations and open up the game with his evident quality in the final third is obviously a factor that makes him so sought after.

In an effort to persuade him that there was a realistic pathway to the first team for him at Everton, Lawrence was elevated to the U23s for the last four games of of Premier League 2 last season, coming on as a second-half sub in the first two, and starting the last two.

But it wasn't enough to get him to stay on as a second-year scholar, with Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs reportedly fighting to sign him after he decided not to stay at Everton.

At 16, he was still too young to sign a professional contract and those close to the family suggest that the turmoil which led to or was caused by changes to the Everton Academy — amidst their worst seasons for a very long time at both U18 and U23 level — persuaded him that it was now time to leave.

But on the other side of the coin, it turns out that not only is he a lifelong Man City fan, as are his parents, a Scottish mum and English Dad, but he was originally with the Man City Academy up to the age of 7, and that Everton stole him away with the promises of jam today as well as jam tomorrow.

It seems that, despite this allegiance, Emilio and his family preferred what they saw and were promised at Everton's Academy, apparently because they threw everything at him and his parents at the time, whereas Manchester City are reluctant to do this with very young players, waiting until they get to 11 or 12 before lavishing too many enticements.

But Everton were taking him on football tournaments across Europe and giving him and his family the 5-star treatment designed to get them and keep them in the fold through the developmental years of the Academy. And that ploy worked to an extent… at least until this Summer.

Article continues below video content

It remains to be seen, of course, how the young protégé progresses in the future years now that he is "back home" with Manchester City — how brilliant a top-level footballer he becomes and if he goes all the way to City's first team.


Reader Comments (42)

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Barry McNally
1 Posted 23/07/2022 at
Any good news on ToffeeWeb?!
Kieran Kinsella
2 Posted 23/07/2022 at

It's a role reversal from a few years back when we signed the likes of George Green, Garbutt, Lewis Gibson etc.

If he has real talent, he could look at the pathway at City as appealing. Foden just turned 22 and has already won 9 major honors (excluding charity shields). Ellis Simms is 6 months younger, Joe Anderson the same age as Foden and we are talking about their "pathway" which right now involves being nowhere near the first team. Now obviously they are not talents by Foden but has the Everton academy become a long-term nursery for mediocre talents? As opposed to a place where real talent can flourish and get an opportunity? Do we just have no real talent? Or would the likes of Dowell, Kenny, and co. who were best in class at 17/18 have improved exponentially at a club like City rather than falling to the level of their other team mates who are the proverbial championship at best stock?

Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 23/07/2022 at
Goes back to a point I've made many times before. Good strategy by City. Not interested until a player hits a certain age. Some would say 12, I would say 14. Then invest.
Pat Kelly
4 Posted 23/07/2022 at
Smart kid, saw the writing on the wall.
Michael Kenrick
5 Posted 23/07/2022 at

I found a fair bit of info from a thread on a Man City forum site:

Emilio Lawrence

I think you'd find the entire thread (all 16 pages!) very interesting reading, especially what these City folk have to say about the Everton scouts and their apparent philosophy.

Of course this is all in the past and says nothing about how they operate going forward, now that the Strategic Review has swept the place clean. But reading this, I'm mindful of that case where Everton drew an Under-17 transfer ban for flouting the rules when it comes to Academy level enticements.

Lots of drama and intrigue...

Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 23/07/2022 at
Thanks Michael. You've either just occupied my Friday evening or my early Saturday morning once the dogs have been out. I'll be back with thoughts and comment!!!
Sean Roe
7 Posted 23/07/2022 at
This really says a lot about the current state of Everton football club.

The route to first team football must be much quicker and easier with us rather than a club like city where he will be trying to displace world class players and other top quality youngsters. How many other talented British youngsters have gone where the grass is greener only to disappear for years and then pop up in league 1 or 2 at age 24 or 25?

I hope for his sake he has made the correct decision, with the state of our playing staff he could've been in the first team squad next season if he's that talented.

Mike Hayes
8 Posted 23/07/2022 at
The lad has ambition Everton haven’t a pot to piss in 🤷
Kieran Kinsella
9 Posted 23/07/2022 at

I love this quote from that City thread:

"A few years ago I had my youngest lads team u7 at the time playing in a tournament at Curzon Ashton, the place was crawling with Everton scouts in all their Everton gear, you couldn't miss them and when they liked the look of a boy the 1st question they would ask was who the parents were, not because they wanted to speak to them, but so they could see the physical build of the parents and they would then get an idea what the son was going to be like. I found this a strange way to do things but hey ho they're the pros"

One question: how do Everton know whether a kid is adopted? in foster care? takes growth hormones? or that his Mum didn't have a ding-dong with the milkman?

Dave Williams
10 Posted 23/07/2022 at
We are not an attractive proposition for anyone just now but hopefully Thirwell will sort it all out.
We have had talented youngsters who have not made it- Ledson, Walsh and Dowell not to mention Green who had his own problems. Why is our recent record with young players so poor- do we delay for too long in giving them a chance?
We have to sort this because we are in no position to buy our way up the league judging by the lack of transfer action. The neglect in our club is scandalous as regards scouting, recruitment, development of young players, level of wages etc and has to be addressed seriously.
Ben King
11 Posted 23/07/2022 at
Is there any area that the club thrive (aside from Everton in the community)?

The administration, the management appears so amateur in so many ways.

Perhaps Lawrence was always destined to leave. But it’s interesting that the stand out prospects (including Thierry Small) just don’t see Everton as a worthy place to spend the most important of their formative years.

And it would appear that we’re not terribly attractive to our transfer targets unless we wave £120K+ a week at them

We’re lucky we attracted Frank but unless we support him he’ll be off

Given our financial woes it’s not much of an exaggeration to suggest he saved our club last season by avoiding relegation

Bobby Mallon
12 Posted 23/07/2022 at
We should get rid of the academy and just buy the cast offs from city Chelsea Utd etc. let’s be honest how much have we made selling good players that have come through the system.
I mean, overmars has made £350million profit in the transfer market for Ajax.
Will Mabon
13 Posted 23/07/2022 at
Thinnest forearm I've ever seen - reckon we dodged one.
Justin Doone
14 Posted 24/07/2022 at
There are very few young players, families or agents who have any shame. There's no loyalty, no gratitude, no patience, only greed and self interest.

The disloyalty gets worse every year and for anyone who is no longer a part of the Everton family, I hope I never hear of them again. They can get lost.

In this case, I can understand the preference to return to man cty, so 2 fingers up and bring in the next in line. I hope we are due some compensation and quickly moved on

James Flynn
15 Posted 24/07/2022 at
Meh, the "Major Coup!" would have been the youngster staying with us.

Started out with ManCity youth of ManCity supporting parents. Hits 16 years with the first major club decision of whatever his football future holds. Hardly a surprise which club Emilio and his parents picked.

At 16 he looks a prospect. So did James Vaughn. No one knows what Emilio's future will be.

Danny O’Neill
16 Posted 24/07/2022 at
They should be judging on football ability and potential Kieran.

I don't agree that we should get rid of the academies. But I think they should be restructured significantly. No teams and no entry below the age of 14 at least. You could stretch that to 16.

Have the clubs' coaches and scouts go out into the local football network and assist at grass roots. Leave youngsters in their natural environments but help development outside of the bubble. Even sponsor a number of local teams.

Admirable as their charitable work is, I would like to see some of Everton in the Community's effort put into that type of initiative. We are a football club. Support local football for mutual benefit.

I know, scratched record from me, but I don't like this "been at Everton since 7" stuff. On one hand, manipulation of young players' dreams at a very young age. Arguably and more significantly, those of their parents and the demands on the youngsters that come with that.

Robert Tressell
17 Posted 24/07/2022 at
You win some you lose some with this sort of thing.

My view is we should invest more in nurturing more of this sort of talent. Some will leave, but if we nurture them well and become known for giving them a route to the first team then we'll do well out of it. Indeed if we do genuinely get known for blooding youngsters then we'll attract talent from City and others too.

Barca didn't scrap La Masia because Man Utd and Arsenal pinched Pique and Fabregas.

The departure of Lawrence looks, a bit like Small last year, certainly unfortunate but circumstantial too.

Hopefully talents like Samuels-Smith, Metcalfe and Okoronkwo (who we pinched from Sunderland) will be knocking on the door of the first team soon.

Andy Meighan
18 Posted 24/07/2022 at
Will 13. Brilliant.
Danny O’Neill
19 Posted 24/07/2022 at
I read through that thread Michael.

At one point it went down a Rooney rabbit hole, but that was brief and short-lived thankfully.

Some interesting views and perspectives.

How proactive Everton are in Manchester. I hope we are as proactive in Merseyside. I would say other areas, but I understand that with players under a certain age, there is a mile limit on how far away from home they can be to play in an elite academy?

Some reiterate how City's focus seems to be to poach older academy players when others have done the work. This isn't uncommon, but I just wonder if that goes back to my point about not really being interested in having players until they are at least 14? Some of the City fans seem to complain about it but I actually think it's a good strategy.

If true, I cringe at the "Everton scouts in all the gear" comment. Who's ego is that scratching as opposed to the more discrete Manchester United scout who it only became apparent he was a scout when he pulled his badge. Classy. Stand in the shadows and make your observations, rather than the "look who I am" approach.

I always like to get observations from other fans. The one that stood out was the comment about Everton doing well at U18s & U23s but in the main, producing League 1 & League 2 standard players. Sadly, I find it difficult to argue with that.

This may turn out to be a disappointment. It may turn out to be nothing. At 16 who knows how it turns out for him and any other player? Either way, good luck to the kid.

Dave Abrahams
20 Posted 24/07/2022 at
Michael (5), could you please do a check on how any games Emilio has played for Everton since he became fifteen, full games and substitutions?

I’ve only seen the lad three or four times and he has got a lot of potential ability but for this report to say how many clubs were after him is based on just one fan, a City fan?

George Stuart
21 Posted 24/07/2022 at
Locking in kids at age 7. The whole industry should hang its head in shame.

I lose more and more faith in professional football day after day. And don't give me any crap about realism and practicalities. We may just as well hand the lot over to Murdoch and the ESL.

Maybe we already have.

Michael Kenrick
22 Posted 24/07/2022 at
Dave, I can only tell you U18 and U23 games he's played – he was 16 pretty much all of last season (DoB, 20 September 2005):

Academy U23s Career

SeasonTeamLeague Apps Cup Apps League GoalsCup Goals
2021-22Under-23s2 (2)00 (0)0

Academy U18s Career

SeasonTeamLeague Apps Cup Apps League GoalsCup Goals
2021-22Under-18s 17 (1)62 (2)1
2020-21Under-18s 1 (3)10 (0)0

Dupont Koo
23 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Marcel Brands' attempt to fast-track the U18 to play in U23 level was too little too late: I still believe that had the Kenwright Entourage not around to sabotage his effort, he would've implemented it earlier in his tenure which might have salvaged the situation with Thierry Small & Lawrence.

Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me. As soon as we have lost Small to Southampton, more drastic measures should have been done with other "High Ceiling" prospects (Lawrence included in that group, of course) in the academy, and then Moshiri brought in Rafa with the Kenwright Entourage lurking around to compromise Brands. The rest is now history.

Nothing we can do now other than learning the lessons and hoping Thelwell & Co. are not wasting any time to do what is necessary with the Academy & the Pipeline to the First Team (I hate the word "Pathway": it sounds so slow and carries none of the meticulousness required in talent assessment).

Quick tangent: Southampton is turning the tables around by signing all these young guns between 17 and 19 from the Big Six, offering them immediate First Team Football on Premiership Level with a view to sell them off for Multiple Times of Profits when they reach their early 20s.

Phill Thompson
24 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Michael, a great piece of research there. “ Future Ballon D' Or winner.” seems a bit over the top though. Lawrence has been talked about for a few years, I've only ever seen bits and pieces never a full 90 mins, he's a pretty talented attacker able to score with both feet.

Re your stats, I'm pretty sure I saw him score a goal at U18 in the 20-21 season, it was a spectacular move with Dixon combining with Ebere, Dixon running the length of the pitch and Lawrence finishing it off. Was hoping it would be shown time and time again when all 3 made the first team 😀.

Lots of social media coverage of him as a “Scottish wonderkid” from people doing a quick Google and seeing he played once for Scotland U17. It does seem to me though that few people have actually seen him perform for 90 mins.

Of the two, I'm more relieved that we've managed to retain Ishe Samuels-Smith, someone I have watched 6 or 7 times in full games, including 3 for England U16, so have a better knowledge of him. Good luck to Lawrence, I hope he reaches his potential, who knows we could get him back at 19/20-ish.

Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Michael (22), thanks very much for your research on Emilio Lawrence.

I think it proves that although Emilio is a very good potential footballer the report from the article, from a Mam City website, was well over the top.

Nevertheless good luck to the lad in his future career with City, again like with Small going to Southampton I think it was out of Everton's hands. They obviously offered the lad good terms but couldn't compete with City's standing at the moment, well for the next few years being honest.

Danny O’Neill
26 Posted 25/07/2022 at
The written word is always open to interpretation, Dave. But your last sentence gives me optimism. "At the moment" and "the next few years".

It's only going to be a few years right?!

Dave Abrahams
27 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Danny (26),

Yes, I wrote that sentence in the hope that we will turn it round but you have to be honest with yourself. Today, two weeks before the season starts, it's very hard to be optimistic. Then again, let's see how the transfer window transpires.

It's also absolutely impossible to give up on Everton FC, never even tried to myself.

Danny O’Neill
28 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Because we can't give up Dave.

Putting the 27 stuff aside, I'm already getting enthusiastic, which is drawing shaking heads from my brother and son as well as concerned looks from the dogs.

Not to mention a stern look from the better half!

Dave Abrahams
29 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Danny (28), yes carry on Danny and ignore those looks, you’ve faced things in your career a thousand times worse than stern looks, although I’ve had a few of those and they can be scary!!
Phill Thompson
30 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Dave, Danny, yep hope springs eternal and I’ll never give up on Everton, though my enthusiasm does wane at times. That’s why I like the u18/21s, there’s always fresh hope every season, the 15 year old schoolboy who pops up for the u18s alongside the 16 year old I’ve never seen before, or the u21 player who’s suffered injury but is now making his mark.
I just wish at times our ownership, board and first team weren’t so shoite.
Peter Warren
31 Posted 25/07/2022 at
I would love Everton to be the club that plays youngsters. German clubs seems to do it and get lots of talent / I don't see many do it in the Premier League unless outstanding talent like Foden or Sterling or Rooney etc.

I think it's the pathway for us to get back to the top, fans would get behind youngsters and obviously they're cheap and more you do it, more youngsters will want to come here which means more quality that youngsters will become.

We should try and have it so we always have 5 or 6 “homegrown” academy boys in match-day squads and give them a chance of playing.

Danny O’Neill
32 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Phill, keep those reports coming about the youngsters. I really enjoy them and it's great reading your assessments.

I won't go on too much about the German system Peter as I have done so many times. But they get it right from grass roots. Their international trophy count tells you the difference between them and England without even having to look into the detail.

Using the club I follow as an example (Schalke), they relied too much on the academy. Their academy was so good that the hawks circled and took the players away. Yes, at initial profit to the club. But that became their business model rather than transfers. They eventually got caught with their pants down and relegated. Fortunately they've come straight back up at the first time of asking and hopefully learned a lesson.

We've almost done the opposite with reckless spending.

It has to be a balancing of blooding young potential alongside sensible external transfer dealings and bringing in experienced players.

I'm probably stating the obvious to many.

Michael Kenrick
33 Posted 25/07/2022 at
This was a fascinating one for me. So tempting to beat the living shit out of Unsworth and Co over such an obvious failing of the Academy.

Interesting that the usual cadre of Academy bashers have largely refrained from their formulaic condemnation. It just shows to me that, if you can find out a little more of the truth about things, they are never as clear-cut as the headlines want to make them.

My take is, it was a fluke that the kid was with us and not with Man City, and that he has now returned 'home'. Just one of those things. We've been on the other side of it a-plenty, so swings and roundabouts.

As for that goal, Phill, I think it was at Link, after he and Ebere had come on as subs –his first at that level. But I can't find any video of it.

Ooops I see the problem now. My column headings @ 22 switched around – apologies, Phill!

Danny O’Neill
34 Posted 25/07/2022 at
I've been pretty condemning of the academy over the years, Michael, but that's probably more linked to my criticism of grass roots football in this country.

I do think the coaching at Finch Farm could have been better. I do think there should be better connection between the club and the local teams that play, week-in & week-out. We don't seem to have had an end-to-end system.

Rather than vacuum 7-year-olds up into the closet bubble, why not invest in the facilities and help local teams with coaching whilst keeping an eye on players with potential?

Apologies, I'm probably too much of a purist and Romanist when it comes to youth coaching. But I speak from experience.

Dave Williams
35 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Has Ishe Samuels-Smith decided to stay?
Dave Abrahams
36 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Dave (35),

Yes, Samuels-Smith has decided to stay and his younger brother has also joined the club, or maybe he was already here and I've just heard about him in the last few weeks.

Phill Thompson
37 Posted 25/07/2022 at
Michael, yes it was definitely the 3rd goal against Wolves that Lawrence scored. I'm not sure if I can get this link to work though!

Okay, got it. Quintyne / Dixon blocks the ball in his own box, it's Ebere who cuts inside and clips the pass out back to Dixon who takes it to the line, cuts it back for Lawrence who controls with his right, scores with his left. One of the best Everton youth goals since Rooney!

Michael Kenrick
38 Posted 26/07/2022 at
Nice one, Phill.

The sheer speed of the move from transition, the superb execution in the box... no wonder it's such a blur... I haven't seen that kind of stuff in ages.

Dave Abrahams
39 Posted 26/07/2022 at
Phill (37), liked the style and movement of Ebere in that clip especially that pass up the wing for Dixon to run onto, very elegant play. How old is Ebere? I’ll definitely look out for this lad in the future.
Phill Thompson
40 Posted 26/07/2022 at
Dave, Coby Ebere is one of the new intake of Scholars, so he's 16 now. The goal above was scored at the end of the 20-21 season so he would have been 15 then.

I was surprised he didn't get more games last season at U18, maybe injury, but he was one of the standouts for our U16s, scoring 4 goals against Liverpool in one match. (Does it get any better than that?). There's a Germany connection as well, but I'm not clear about it.

Although he was quite deep when involved in that goal, he's primarily an attacker and a big, strong player. Ebere, Sherif and Beaumont- Clark should provide a potent attacking force this season.

Kristian Boyce
41 Posted 26/07/2022 at
While it's annoying to lose a good player with bags of potential, I'm actually happy in a way he's going to Man City. Our production line at the moment has been pretty scarce and a number of highly touted players haven't made the step up.

With him going to City, and their ability to churn out talent on a consistent basis, this could be a win for the player and for us. If he develops well, City have a habit of selling off their youth players for ridiculously high prices. I believe that we are entitled to development reimbursement due to his time here at the club. This could be a decent chunk if he continues his development.

Liam Mogan
42 Posted 28/07/2022 at
There is more to this than just EFC incompetence. From a source I trust 100% whose boy played with him at Man City.

The lad was training at both City and Everton until given an ultimatum by City to choose, when he was 7/8.

Dad didn't like City's bullying tactics with such young kids and has continually called out their methods on the 'circuit' ever since.

Big surprise he has gone back there amongst peers. But Man City offer all 2nd year scholars a pro contract and this kid is on £10k a week. Everton could not compete and the lad did not sign 2-year scholarship forms initially, just 1 year with Everton. Dad has always insisted that the lad has control of his own destiny and, given his talents, has held all the aces.

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