Everton look set to continue their recent transfer strategy of signing up some of the most promising young talent from the Football League this summer by snapping up Coventry City teenager Bassala Sambou on a free transfer, according to the Coventry Telegraph.
A striker who has scored 25 goals this season for the Sky Blues' under-18s and under-21s sides, Sambou has allegedly been promised by manager Tony Mowbray that he will be given the chance to push to make the step up to senior football next season after making his debut in an FA Cup tie in November.
However, according to the Coventry Telegraph, the 18-year-old is set on turning down a professional deal at the Ricoh Arena, and the Toffees are waiting to bring him in in the summer.
Mowbray admitted his disappointment at the decision made by Sambou to take a punt on breaking through at the very top level at such an early stage, and insisted the player would have been better off staying and making his name at the club.
According to quotes published by the paper, Mowbray said: "We are just a victim of when players come out of their scholarship and there’s a natural gap between their first-year professional contract and there’s a window of opportunity to leave if they want to.
"They have taken up that option not to sign after we made a pretty good offer beyond what we might have offered normal scholars. He’s a young boy with huge potential and yet they want to go down another route.
"I had long chats with him and his advisors and think the career path would be much better at this club than going to the Premier League and finding himself in a pool of 20 or 30 under 21-year-olds all striving for the same thing and where he might never surface, of course, whereas here I think he would have possibly been around our first-team squad and maybe off the bench and getting some first team minutes next season."
As well as bringing their own youngsters through their academy, Everton have a strong recent record of poaching young talent from the lower leagues and establishing them in the first team.
John Stones, now a regular England international and the subject of £30 million interest from Chelsea last summer, joined from Barnsley three years ago, whilst Mason Holgate and Brendan Galloway have also been brought in from the Tykes and MK Dons respectively.