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Rhys Hughes 59

 

Everton had a fight on their hands to land Rhys Hughes as a 6-year-old, with local rivals Liverpool and Manchester United both displaying an interest, but the welcome he and his family received at the Blues made a big impression.

Hughes subsequently worked his way through the ranks of the Everton Academy but not without sacrifice. At 14, he moved into club digs to ease the travel burden on his family and had to change schools in the process, going on to achieve four A and four A* grades at GCSE. But it is on the pitch where his talent truly lies. He was an unsed sub for one Under-18 game in season 2017-18.
 
He would have an excellent season for the Under-18s in 2019-20 before it was curtailed by the Coronavirus pandemic. The midfielder enjoyed a stand-out campaign under Paul Tait and helped Everton Under-18s to several splendid victories including a 7-3 rout of West Bromwich Albion and 10-0 decimation over Sunderland. Hughes captained the side for the majority of the season on the back of  rapid development which heralded three goals and six assists in 15 appearances before the season was terminated early.

Initially playing as a Number 10, he has been re-branded as an all-action Number 6 by Paul Tait. Hughes is neat on the ball, links defence with attack, can play on both feet and does not shy away from a tackle. He is also a threat from set-pieces.

Contracted to Everton until 2022, he has trained with David Unsworth and his Under-23 squad since January 2020 after having made significant progress over the previous 12 months. Hughes would almost certainly have made his Premier League 2 debut if the campaign had not ended prematurely - his Under-23 bow came in the International Cup in January - and he was set to appear in the Under-19 European Championships elite rounds for Wales.

Rhys took up the challenge of a starting place in the Under-23s when Academy football returned in 2020-21 following suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic and he made up an intrisic part of a new-look midfield alongside of Einar Iversen, and Tyler Onyango as Unsworth lowered the average age of his team.

He was involved in the squads for all 24 Premier League 2 games of 2020-21, starting 19 and sitting out just one as an unused sub, such was David Unsworth's confidence in the 'outstanding' midfielder who was described as being 'worth his weight in gold' following his first full season in the U23s:

With 2 goals and 7 assists to his name, Unsworth suggested to the Liverpool Echo that Hughes will spend the next 12 months at Everton improving his physicality but is excited by the potential of the dead-ball specialist who was also named in Wales U21 squad in March:

"What we've looked at is where do we play him. We felt playing off one of the sides, coming into the pockets, getting on the ball on the half-turn, was probably his best opportunity. He has to get quicker, he has to get stronger, he has to develop physically, but this all happens naturally.

"All the players have individual programmes but we've missed out on a number of sessions in the gym this year. For people like Rhys that is the next stage of their development, that physicality.

"So another pre-season, which is always important, more time in the gym and afternoon sessions, who knows? He's got the ability, he needs to build his stamina and his physicality but if you're talking a footballer, he is an outstanding footballer with great technique and a great set-ball delivery. Those type of players are worth their weight in gold and, after another year of development, we'll see where we are with him."



FactFile

Squad numbers 59
Position Midfielder
Nationality Wales
Born Wrexham
Date of birth 21 September 2001
Height  
Joined 1 July 2018
Joined from Everton Academy
Signed under Marco Silva
Transfer fee None
Contract duration 2½ years
Contract expires June 2022
Full debut Under-23s only
Previous Clubs None
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Everton Career

Season Squad No. League Apps (sub) League Goals Cup Apps (sub) Cup Goals Total Apps (sub) Total Goals
2021-22 59 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0
2020-21 59 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0
2019-20 59 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0
  Totals 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0

Academy U23s Career

Season Team League Apps League Goals Cup Apps Cup Goals
2021-22 Under-23s 2 (1) 0 1 (0) 0
2020-21 Under-23s 19 (4) 2 0 (0) 0
2019-20 Under-23s 0 (0) 0 1 (1) 0

Academy U18s Career

Season Team League Apps League Goals Cup Apps Cup Goals
2019-20 Under-18s 15 (0) 3 7 (0) 3
2018-19 Under-18s 18 (0) 0 4 (5) 1
2017-18 Under-18s 0 (0) 0 0 (0) 0

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