Dominic Calvert Lewin, as his transfer to Everton demonstrates, is a player of huge potential.
But, so long as Sheffield United remain in League One, Chris Wilder can only afford to focus on the here and now.
Wilder, the South Yorkshire club’s manager, sanctioned Calvert-Lewin’s departure after receiving an improved offer, potentially worth around £1.4m, from Goodison Park’s hierarchy last night. Although the teenage centre-forward boasted plenty of admirers behind the scenes at Bramall Lane, not least because he was among the most approachable members of United’s first team squad, Wilder and his coaching staff took the decision that a seven figure sum for a player yet to command a regular starting role was simply too good to turn down.
But their thinking - despite suggestions to the contrary, United’s owners did not push for the sale - also reveals why Wilder is so determined to win promotion at the first time of asking. Only by reaching the Championship, senior figures acknowledge, can United expect to retain their best home grown talent on a long-term basis. If Calvert-Lewin had to be sacrificed to achieve that aim then, so be it.
Nevertheless, the fact he made only one senior appearance following Wilder’s appointment in May suggests the 48-year-old harboured reservations about his ability to lead an attack this season.
Everton, who received over £80m in merit money and television revenues alone last term, can afford to take that gamble. United, who receive a £360,000 solidarity payment from the Premier League, are inevitably more risk averse.
Calvert-Lewin graduated from the Steelphalt Academy 18 months ago and Wilder said: “This is a really good deal for us and a fantastic opportunity for Dominic. We do not want to stand in the way of a young player joining a well-established Premier League club.”
Although Calvert-Lewin’s fee is officially undisclosed, The Star understands that United can expect to receive a guaranteed £1m from Everton over the course of the teenager’s contract. As is becoming increasingly common, that sum is made up of an initial six figure downpayment with the rest owed in regular instalments. United, who inserted a significant sell-on clause into the deal, will receive the remaining £400,000 if Calvert-Lewin wins an England under-21 cap or makes a senior appearance for Ronald Koeman’s side. Together with former team mate Harry Chapman, he was yesterday named in the under-19 team which hosts Brazil at Kidderminster’s Aggborough Stadium on Sunday.
Everton first made an approach for Calvert-Lewin in June but, on that occasion, refused to meet United’s asking price. Having initially proposed a package worth £450,000, they returned to the negotiating table yesterday.
“He’ll be a great acquisition to our very talented group and I think he has the opportunity here now to kick on and play at the very highest level,” David Unsworth, Everton’s under-23 coach, said. “He’s joining a massive club and this is an opportunity of a lifetime for him.”
“To go from League One to the Premier League is a massive jump,” Unsworth, the former United defender, added. “But he certainly has all of the attributes to make that jump, given time, hard work and the desire I know he has.”