02/07/2024 61comments  |  Jump to last

Everton have acquired teenage foward Omari Benjamin for their Under-21s side after taking him on trial at the tail end of last season.

The 18-year-old, who has represented Wales up to Under-19 level so far, signed a three-year contract with the Blues today.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for me," he said on evertontv. "I’m keen to show what I can do on the pitch and excited at what is to come at Everton.

“When I came here on trial, the boys and staff were really nice, there was a good feel to the Club and everyone was really welcoming so it made to easy to sign here.”

Benjamin added: “I’d say I’m an exciting forward who likes to drive at opponents and score goals.

“I’m really keen to get started. This season, I just want to show what I can do and then, longer-term, get a chance to impress in the Senior Team set-up and, one day, play for Everton and help the Club as much as I can.”


Reader Comments (61)

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Larry O'Hara
1 Posted 02/07/2024 at 15:57:12
Welcome Omari: just the type of signing we need!
Tom Bowers
2 Posted 02/07/2024 at 16:06:48
I guess the Gunners don't rate him??

Would be nice if, just for once, Everton come out on top with a young hopeful.

Gavin Johnson
3 Posted 02/07/2024 at 16:15:35
Sounds like he's worth a gamble.

Hope we also get moving with selling Onana, and reinvest that money in Jaden Philogene and Matt O'Riley from Celtic.

Mike Gaynes
4 Posted 02/07/2024 at 16:21:39
All I care about right now is the completion of The Deal.

Moshiri out, Friedkin in. Everything else can wait.

Michael Kenrick
5 Posted 02/07/2024 at 17:25:43
Mixed feelings about this.

Good that he has already scored for us as a trialist last season, but taking on cast-off rejects from the big boys — is that really a recipe for success?

Or just a restatement of our position some distance below the peak of the pyramid? As ever, only time will tell.

Michael Kenrick
6 Posted 02/07/2024 at 17:32:45
And Mike, the idea that "Everything else can wait" is beyond stupid.

All aspects of the business of the club have to be pursued with the utmost diligence and conviction, as the Friedkin deal could take literally months to be confirmed.

Everything else absolutely cannot wait for that to be concluded!

Kieran Kinsella
7 Posted 02/07/2024 at 17:34:54

Reminds me of when we picked up Kieran Agard from Arsenal on a free. Somehow he was good enough to be voted Player of the Year for our Under-23s then released on a free, whilst only ever having played a few seconds for the first team as a late sub. Or Byrne from Man Utd another 18-year-old Big Six freebie.

Hopefully, he isn't just here to bulk out the Under-21s for a couple of years.

Robert Tressell
8 Posted 02/07/2024 at 17:37:06
Good news. We need this sort of player and he seemed to settle in during his brief spell.

Noticed the very promising winger Cozier Duberry has also left Arsenal's academy for free along with Ruell Walters the RB. Both would be in and around the first team squad for us. Interesting to see what happens to them.

Kieran Kinsella
9 Posted 02/07/2024 at 17:40:16

Was there a second Duberry who wasn't so cozy? I wonder if they'll Ruell Walters leaving?

Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 02/07/2024 at 17:49:53
Thank you for that, Michael. I will respond when I'm able to recover from the brilliance and perspicacity of "As ever, only time will tell."

It's thinking up such pearls of wisdom that prevents you from detecting when someone is being ironic.

Jerome Shields
11 Posted 02/07/2024 at 18:19:14
It is surreal for a deal to finally be possible with the competent Friedkin Group after 30 years of bluff and incompetence waiting on a competent owner.

Benjamin is a risk – especially having been assessed by Arsenal, who I would rate, having played with players from their youth team years ago. Good Luck to him.

John Pickles
12 Posted 02/07/2024 at 19:19:45
Thank God we didn't pick him up after being released from Spurs' academy.

We'd probably have to pay Levy £1M every time he plays for the Under-21s.

Roger Helm
13 Posted 02/07/2024 at 19:26:05
There are lots of players who mature later than others, so who knows what he will be like in 2-3 years? He might be great or he might be rubbish. If the coaching staff like him, who are we to argue?

As for taking the big boy's cast-offs, the saying about beggars and choosers comes to mind.

Anyway, Omari, welcome to the club, your chances of senior football are better here than at the Emirates.

Kevin Prytherch
14 Posted 02/07/2024 at 19:39:05
Michael 5,

I seem to recall Jagielka and Baines being picked up by others after being released by a bigger team. Vardy and Rice also got released as youngsters and went to smaller teams.

Granted they were released around 15 rather than 18, but they can still make it.

George Cumiskey
15 Posted 02/07/2024 at 19:45:46
Yep, good job we didn't take cast-offs from other teams… like Kevin Sheedy or Alan Harper or Peter Reed or Andy Gray or Pat van der Hauwe, imagine the crap we would of in if we'd done that!

Or the shit Arsenal would of in with our cast-offs like Alan Ball or Kevin Richardson or Ipswich with David Johnson or Villa with Steve McMahon — doesn't bear thinking about!

Dave Abrahams
16 Posted 02/07/2024 at 20:11:07
Michael (6),

The Friedkin deal could take months or the sale might not take place at all. Watch this space.

Ben King
17 Posted 02/07/2024 at 20:13:18
How can anyone be negative about wanting to look more closely at a kid with high potential that we've assessed last season and for no fee???

At best he's a first-teamer.

It's possible we sell him for £1-2M.

At worst, he doesn't make it.

Very little risk; potential high reward.

Just because he's not good enough for Arsenal doesn't mean he wouldn't be an asset here. I think we'd all take Emile Smith Rowe as an example.

John Raftery
18 Posted 02/07/2024 at 20:18:11
Although rejected by one of the top clubs, the player might benefit from a change of scene, different coaches and different teammates. Presumably he is seen by our recruitment team as a better prospect than anyone coming through our Under-18s in his position.

Having been coached for five years in a fiercely competitive environment at Arsenal, it should be a given he is comfortable on the ball and possesses a firm grasp of what is required at the elite level of the game.

There are many examples of players who have used a rejection notice as a trigger for improvement. It's not the rejection but the reaction which counts.

Mike Gaynes
19 Posted 02/07/2024 at 20:28:46
Dave #16, sounds ominous.
Dave Williams
20 Posted 02/07/2024 at 20:38:19
What have you heard, Dave??
Peter Mills
21 Posted 02/07/2024 at 20:50:00
Dave #16,

Apart from the lack of certainty around the club that the Friedkin deal offers (admittedly, quite a plus, given the past few years), there is little about it that excites me.

Mike Hayes
22 Posted 02/07/2024 at 21:18:48
Come in ready for the preseason and hopefully he gets a run out.

Nice to see we are recruiting early instead of 30 seconds to go.

Steve Shave
23 Posted 02/07/2024 at 21:25:36
Gavin 3,

Jaden Philogene and Matt O'Riley are my two favoured signings too of the names mentioned so far. I'd be really happy with those, plus the fella from Marseille. Greaves if we have to sell Branthwaite.

Derek Knox
24 Posted 02/07/2024 at 21:26:52
Hopefully we have acquired a decent 'reserve player' who kicks on at a club that seems to appreciate and welcomed him when on trial. Maybe a late developer who turns out to be a gem and not another nugget.

Welcome onboard, O'Mari! (Irish?) :-)

Ben King
25 Posted 02/07/2024 at 21:59:51
Arsenal famously had Harry Kane and he’s gone on to do okay…
Paul Kossoff
26 Posted 02/07/2024 at 23:46:19
Larry, no, we need an experienced 28- to 32-year-old striker who can score goals now, not when we are in the Championship.

We haven't had a good goal getter for a while now and look where it's got us. Second-lowest or third-lowest goals for in the Premier League.

An 18-year-old Arsenal cast-off will only add to the other not-good-enoughs sitting on the bench waiting for Calvert-Lewin to get tired. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Martin Reppion
27 Posted 02/07/2024 at 00:01:55
I go back further on players released as teenagers, who made good. Bryan Fynn, Gary Speed, Erling Haaland (didn't we look at him?).

What matters is we are bringing in potential. We'd all like to sign a Messi or a Lineker. We may end up with a Brett Angell. But it costs us nowt, which is all we can afford.

I am more worried that some of the 'about to signs' haven't as yet materialised. I am happy with the business done, but looking at the squad, we need half a dozen more, ready to be part of a matchday squad, before the season starts.

Other than goalkeeper, I don't think we have an area adequately covered. July is crucial to our recruitment.

David Cooper
28 Posted 03/07/2024 at 01:09:04
Michael, if you care to look at him scoring a hat-trick against Spurs U18 two years ago, it's quite clear he has a lot of potential.

Probably 5'-10", low centre of gravity, fast, likes to run with the ball and can finish. Not in the same way as some of our previous youth superstars who often dominated other juniors due to their size.

I think he has definitely potential if coached and brought along carefully. Similar to Dobbin in that he likes to come in from the left wing but a better finisher. And Dobbin brought us £10 million!

It will be very interesting to see how he progresses.

Larry O'Hara
29 Posted 03/07/2024 at 01:50:14
Paul (27),

No bubble burst, but we cannot afford the type of striker you suggest. I meant that he fits the profile of a young player with potential and something to prove.

Of course, if you have Mbappe and Kane on speed dial, them too by all means... as long as they can track back.

Kieran Kinsella
31 Posted 03/07/2024 at 02:09:47
A lot of people are giving Michael Kenrick shit here but some of the examples are ridiculous.

George, Alan Ball a World Cup and Football League Championship winner joining Arsenal is hardly comparable with an 18-year-old released by Arsenal's academy.

Martin Reppion, Erling Haaland? Yes, we looked at him – so did every club in Europe. He was a kid. We didn't tell him to get lost at 18/19. Again a ridiculous comparison.

Yes, we all know the stories of David Platt etc who got cut and went on to become stars but we also know the multitude of 17- and 18-year-olds who get cut and then retire. Or like John-Paul Kissock go on to play in the non-league despite being massively hyped.

After all the prodigies aged under 18 we bought, eg, Bowler, Gibson, Green etc, I think it is perfectly reasonable for Michael to question a 3-year contract for an 18-year-old -- legal adult -- who having come through at Arsenal -- a team currently using Havertz a second rate midfielder as a striker -- to wonder if someone they lay off is someone who can improve us?

Yes, we have seen fairytale stories of late bloomers. But we have seen many more like Agard, Vidarson, Weifeng Li, Cody Arnoux, etc — and these guys mostly cost actual transfer fees.

So yeah, we hope for the best (Michael included) but a bit of skepticism is reasonable.

James Flynn
32 Posted 03/07/2024 at 03:26:28
Dave (16) -

"Michael (6) The Friedkin deal could take months or the sale might not take place at all. Watch this space."

Referencing this?

The link is to a Paul The Esk article talking about 777 finances to Bonza, as the latest administrator's report regarding Bonza states that "there is no document pertaining to the loan provided / funds advanced by 777 Partners.”

In turn, how might the Friedkin Group's due diligence could be affected.


Andy Peers
33 Posted 03/07/2024 at 04:00:49
Mike Gaynes makes a lot of sense. Then you have Michael Kenrick !
Jerome Shields
34 Posted 03/07/2024 at 07:43:50
Ben #28

'Kane first played for a local club, Ridgeway Rovers, and joined the Arsenal youth academy when he was 8 years old. He was released after one season for being "a bit chubby" and not "very athletic", according to Liam Brady who was then in charge of Arsenal's academy.'

See what you mean.

Tony Abrahams
35 Posted 03/07/2024 at 07:51:38
Farhad The Frontman would make a great puppet for Spitting Image so nothing would surprise me about a football club that seems to be more murky than the 500 million cubic meters of sand that was dredged from the Irish Sea to help create the foundations for the new Everton Stadium in Bramley-Moore Dock.
Ian Bennett
36 Posted 03/07/2024 at 08:14:18
Has anyone seen Francis Okoronkwo?

Has he got a chance of making it with Everton???

Robert Tressell
37 Posted 03/07/2024 at 08:56:31
Ian # 37,

Okoronkwo is 20 in September and is hitting fairly unremarkable figures in our U21s: 9 goals in 38 games.

Sadly, it's almost certain he won't make it with us.

Denis Richardson
38 Posted 03/07/2024 at 09:00:59
I can only see positives here. Any 18-year-old is a gamble and if he's come through Arsenal's academy, then he's already got a good foundation.

Loads of kids have been let go by ‘bigger' clubs only to find their feet elsewhere and thrive. Loads also let go and never make it.

Wish him well and somehow he reminds me of Lookman in stature and position – hope he's as good!

Jerome Shields
39 Posted 03/07/2024 at 09:17:49
Tony #36,

A statement born out of 30-plus years of experience and insight of Everton.

Brent Stephens
40 Posted 03/07/2024 at 09:32:43
Ian #37,

I've watched a lot of Okoronkwo at Southport and he's not particularly impressed. Decision-making often suspect.

Dave Abrahams
41 Posted 03/07/2024 at 09:49:32
I haven't seen this young lad, Benjamin; I doubt if many of us Everton fans have, so until we have seen him, I think it is best to reserve judgement.

As for the takeover of the club, that will sort it self out, hopefully sooner than later, but it is far from a done deal at present.

Raymond Fox
42 Posted 03/07/2024 at 10:24:42
Good luck to the lad.

Problem for young players at a Premier League club is they have to have really outstanding qualities before managers will risk picking them.

Unless they are obvious elite players, I think they are better going to a lower division club. Though I suppose playing for the Under-21s is a good substitute.

The club must think this kid has a chance of making it with us, I hope he does.

Ben King
43 Posted 03/07/2024 at 10:25:36
Kieran #31,

Brilliant comment….. and I've now seen the light.

Let's not ever take a low-risk chance on any future youngsters because most of them don't work out.


Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
44 Posted 03/07/2024 at 10:57:23
As we have said on many an occasion in the last few weeks, if this lad makes it with us = bonus!

If he doesn't and we can sell him for a fee, a la Simms or even Dobbin, then he's a brilliant signing.

If he is released… how much have we lost? And none of it counts towards PSR, I believe.

John O'Brien
45 Posted 03/07/2024 at 11:05:11
Some people probably made similar comments a few years back when we picked up Calvert-Lewin from Sheffield Utd who went straight into our U21 side, and also Branthwaite from Carlisle at a similar age.

Yes, there is a very good chance that this one won't be as successful as those but, if only the occasional one works out, like Calvert-Lewin or Branthwaite, who have given us probably over £100M worth of player talent, then it's always going to be worth the risk.

Annika Herbert
46 Posted 03/07/2024 at 11:09:43
Robert @ 38, unless you have been watching the U21s on a regular basis, it's almost impossible making such a judgement on Okoronkwo.

It could be the quality of the players around him was, is, lacking in talent and chances provided were few and far between. Not that I have seen that much of the U21s myself.

Unless you are an avid follower of the U21s, of course, in which case you are clearly better placed than myself to make such statements and I bow to your greater knowledge.

Ryan Holroyd
47 Posted 03/07/2024 at 11:11:51
Paul Kassoff

You're a disgrace calling an under 18-year-old kid a cast-off.

Robert Tressell
48 Posted 03/07/2024 at 11:44:54
Raymond # 43 - spot on.

To make it in the Premier League, an academy player needs to be at the level of international quality players immediately from about age 19 / 20.

The standard is so high. U21s football is not really up to Football League standards, by and large, so the gulf is enormous.

Steve Brown
49 Posted 03/07/2024 at 12:01:57
Sure, Paul, could have chosen his words more elegantly – others also used the term 'cast-off' – but I am not sure his point is wrong.

Particularly if Calvert-Lewin departs this summer.

Ben King
50 Posted 03/07/2024 at 12:06:27
Steve #52,

Are you seeing this signing as a Calvert-Lewin replacement?

Brian Williams
51 Posted 03/07/2024 at 12:26:29
So is any player that leaves a club for another club a cast-off then?
Robert Tressell
52 Posted 03/07/2024 at 12:57:05
Annika, I've seen Okoronkwo a few times at U18s level and was optimistic. Decent footballer to go with excellent physique. But he's not really kicked on at U21s.

For comparison, Man Utd bought James Hugill from Sunderland about a year before we bought Okoronkwo. He's a year older than Okoronkwo, hit better figures at U21 level but scored 1 in 20 for Burton Albion on loan.

These sorts of players just don't make it – unless, like Broadhead, they get themselves back into the Premier League by promotion etc after building a career in the lower leagues.

Liam Mogan
53 Posted 03/07/2024 at 13:03:44
It's worth remembering that we had to pay decent money for both Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka after 'casting them off' from our youth teams.

I've just finished my time coaching my lads team and have seen plenty of lads in and out at acadamies. They are far from perfect and resemble sausage factories, churning our identikit players. Seen a lot who have given up football after being treated like cattle, even though they are only 16.

Michael Kenrick
54 Posted 03/07/2024 at 13:50:26

I would imagine that a slightly more specific definition of a "cast-off" would include a player who has not shown enough with a so-called 'bigger' club and ends up being, er, cast off by them, only to be snapped up by a lesser club where the scouting involved extends to something like:

"Well, yes, he's failed to make the grade with them, but he must have shown something for them to take him on… perhaps we could rekindle the flame...???"

Brian Williams
55 Posted 03/07/2024 at 13:54:57
Well said, Michael.
Steve Brown
56 Posted 03/07/2024 at 14:00:23
Ben @ 51,

I don't see Benjamin as a potential replacement for Calvert-Lewin if he leaves. He is a longer-term play to improve the Academy pipeline.

Unfortunately, I also don't see Beto as a replacement and Chermiti won't be ready short-term.

Paul can speak for himself, but I think Paul was saying that the more pressing concern is to find an experienced replacement for Calvert-Lewin if he does leave.

Ben King
57 Posted 03/07/2024 at 15:07:43
Steve #56,

Thanks for the response

We've put down a contract offer for Calvert-Lewin. Either he signs it or we look to sell him. We can't buy a Premier League-ready striker unless we sell Calvert-Lewin as we likely don't have the money.

Signing an academy kid is irrelevant to the Calvert-Lewin situation. It literally has nothing to do with it unless you or Paul are suggesting he's a replacement (which you say you're not).

My next question then is (attempting to find some sense to these comments): Do we only work on 1 deal at at time and wait for that to conclude rather than taking up what we perceive to be good opportunities as they arise?

I really don't understand how the club come in for criticism even when trying to be proactive???

Steve Brown
58 Posted 03/07/2024 at 18:03:01
No worries, Ben, the point I am trying to make might be different to Paul's so I can't speak for him.

We have signed Ndiaye, Iroegbunam and now Benjamin – I hope they will all settle in to be great additions to the squad. You are quite right that none of them is a replacement for Calvert-Lewin. I am also not sure that any of them will be immediate starters next season.

The massive elephant in the room is… Who will replace Calvert-Lewin if he leaves this summer? I agree that, if he won't sign a contract extension, then we should sell him.

However, Thelwell had better have a major move that he is working through to bring a “ready now” Premier League forward into the squad, because neither Beto nor Chermiti are the answer for next season.

We have started several seasons in the last 8 years without a proper striker and they have gone badly. Our recruitment team have also been traditionally diabolical at solving this challenge – I give you Rondon, Maupay – so Thelwell had better have a plan. Otherwise, poor Ndiaye will be shoved up front to try and compete for Pickford's long balls against 6ft-4in defenders.

I might be over-critical as Thelwell might have a whiteboard with a plan on it. Or does Dyche plan to change how the team plays next season? I just don't think Sean will change the fundamentals of how the team will play, so over to Thelwell.

I am just not going to get too excited about signing players with the profile of Tim, Iliam or Omari while the striker question remains unresolved.

Robert Tressell
59 Posted 03/07/2024 at 21:27:45
Steve # 58,

If Calvert-Lewin leaves this summer, then I expect the candidates to replace him will include:

Denkey of Club Brugge
Fofana of Chelsea
Broja of Chelsea
Brobbey of Ajax

Then possibly:

Dallinga of Toulouse
Krstovic of Lecce
Beier of Hoffenheim
Adams of Montpellier
Abraham of Roma
Morris and Adebayo of Luton
Dia of Salernitana
McBurnie - free

Ben King
60 Posted 03/07/2024 at 21:32:58
Steve #58

Agree: if we do sell Calvert-Lewin this season, we definitely need an ‘Premiier League ready' striker to come in and get some goals, else we're in trouble.

I also agree that we've not had one of those for years.

Maupay – crap
Beto – can offer a presence but unlikely to get 10+ Premier League goals (hope I'm wrong)
Chermiti – potential only at this stage
Benjamin – still a kid

So there would be a gaping hole to fill. Hopefully the names mentioned by Robert #59 can be attained and hit the ground running.

Robert Tressell
61 Posted 03/07/2024 at 21:42:45

Of the players I have mentioned, I would have thought only Denkey is reasonably likely to get more than 10 league goals. However, Denkey, Fofana, Broja and Beier might well develop into better goalscorers over time.

It would be a surprise if we are able to sign anyone who scores more than, say, 12 or 13 goals next season. I think we're probably more in the 8 to 12 zone maximum.

Annika Herbert
62 Posted 03/07/2024 at 22:16:05
Robert @ 52, thanks for that explanation.

I can see why you are of the opinion that the lad isn't good enough now.

Fingers crossed Benjamin may prove to be an inspired signing now then.

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