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Inside Everton’s ‘Thelwell Revolution’: Harry Winks loan, James Tarkowski transfer and an academy overhaul

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Sam Cunningham

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A major cultural shift is underway at Everton as the club work flat-out to reshape the playing squad and restructure operations off the field ahead of the new season.

A deal to sign free agent James Tarkowski, 29, from Burnley has been agreed and is expected to be announced when the defender’s contract expires at the end of June.

The club have also been trying to reach an agreement with Tottenham Hotspur to sign Harry Winks, although they are considering several central midfielders of a similar profile.

Talks for Winks are thought to have reached an impasse, with Everton preferring an initial season-long loan while the north London club are pushing for a permanent transfer. Winks, 26, has two years remaining on his Spurs contract.

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Everton director of football Kevin Thelwell, appointed in February with a view to overhauling football operations at the club, has been working closely with manager Frank Lampard to identify and recruit players to fit the manager’s coaching ethos and approach.

Thelwell, the former Wolves sporting director and New York Red Bulls head of football, is simultaneously overseeing a number of appointments to significantly streamline the day-to-day running of the football side of the club in what has been described by one source as the “Thelwell Revolution”.

Everton’s hierarchy are well aware how close they came to a first ever relegation from the Premier League last season that was a result of recent years of misspending on players and poor managerial appointments.

As such, the club embarked on a strategic review and decided on a drastic change of direction even before the end-of-season relegation scare. They avoided relegation by four points.

The Finch Farm academy has been identified as an area that could be better utilised in the mid- to long-term, producing players for the first team while generating income on sales of those who do not make it there.

Thelwell has been tasked with finding players that match Lampard’s ethos (Photo: PA)

Everton have a rich history of attracting and producing talented young footballers, such as Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley, and see it as a major strength of the club and believe a reshuffle can help maximise its potential.

Thelwell has brought in Gareth Prosser, who he worked with at Derby County and Wolves, as academy director with the view to replicating successful systems at leading Premier League clubs, such as Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.

Within the academy umbrella, the club are also recruiting a player development lead coach, player development senior coach and a loan pathways manager. A head of performance analysis and insights will also be appointed to work across the academy and first team.

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With the latter appointment, the club are hoping to extract marginal gains using data analytics and performance analysis to improve players, prevent injuries and align coaching philosophies.

Prior to joining Everton, Prosser was general manager of the Professional Game Academy Audit Company, which meant he oversaw academy standards across professional football in England.

“We want our academy to operate at the highest possible standards and, after a rigorous and thorough recruitment process, felt Gareth – as the lead practitioner responsible for setting and developing these standards for all academies across the country in his previous role – was the standout candidate to support that development at Everton,” Thelwell said.

As part of a the academy shakeup, Paul Tait has become head coach of the Under 21s and former Everton and England full-back Leighton Baines has taken charge of the Under 18s.

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