Everton warding Manchester United off Beni Baningime looking increasingly important

David Unsworth, Caretaker Manager of Everton shows appreciation to the fans after the UEFA Europa League group E match between Olympique Lyon and Everton FC at Stade de Lyon on November 2,...

Beni Baningime was on Manchester United's radar before Everton tied the teenager down to a new deal last month.

David Unsworth, Caretaker Manager of Everton reacts after the UEFA Europa League group E match between Olympique Lyon and Everton FC at Stade de Lyon on November 2, 2017 in Lyon, France.

Three games, three defeats for David Unsworth in caretaker charge of Everton. Since the academy coach replaced the departed Ronald Koeman on the touchline, The Toffees have been knocked out of both the EFL Cup and Europa League.

It was Ligue 1 giants Lyon who dealt the fatal blow to Everton’s first foray into continental competition since 2014/15. A 3-0 defeat at the Parc OL, sealed by late goals from Bertrand Traore, Houssem Aouar and Memphis Depay, left Everton bottom of their Europa League group with just one point form four games.

Though if there’s any positives that can be taken from a sixth defeat in seven games in all competitions, it was the promising performance of young midfielder Beni Baningime.

Lyon's French midfielder Nabil Fekir (L) vies with Everton's Congolese midfielder Beni Baningime during the Europa League (C3) football match Olympique Lyonnais (OL) versus Everton FC on...

The 19-year-old hadn’t even made his Everton debut by the time Koeman was sacked almost a fortnight ago. Since then, however, Baningime has featured in all three of Unsworth’s games at the helm, starting against Chelsea and Lyon and impressing off the bench in Leicester.

Bright spark

Baningime was a confident and composed presence in the centre of the park against Lyon on Thursday, carrying the ball with authority that most of his more expensive and experienced team-mates simply couldn’t match.

He has been the bright spark of a dreadful couple of weeks – meaning Everton will be thankful the teenager turned down interest from Manchester United.

Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City and Beni Baningime of Everton battle for the ball during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on October...

The Mail reported in early October that Baningime’s contract was due to expire next summer and United were a keen admirer of a player who helped Everton win the Premier League 2 last season.

A week later, Baningime committed his future to Goodison Park until 2020. And, on this evidence, he could be some player by then.

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