Everton face 'kick in the teeth' as Southampton swoop for Small - Whelan
Noel Whelan has admitted losing Thierry Small to Southampton would be a “kick in the teeth” for Everton.
The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the 17-year-old left-back may see a pathway to first-team football at St Mary’s.
As revealed by Football Insider on Wednesday (August 18th), Southampton are working on a deal to sign Small after he rejected professional terms at Goodison Park.
The Premier League has told the teenager he is free to speak to other clubs over a move, although they would still need to pay compensation.
The development costs would likely be a fee of up to £5million.
Whelan admitted he was gutted the youngster could leave the club that helped him develop.
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However, he suggested Southampton’s record of bringing youth into the first team could turn Small’s head.
“They’re definitely not a bigger club than Everton, that’s for sure,” Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge.
“However, you look at the pathway through and the players they’ve developed. Look at the amount of money they’ve made from academy players over at Southampton. It’s quite staggering.
“They’re probably up there with some of the best academy players that have come through into the Premier League.
“On one hand I can see that a player’s obviously been well looked after by Everton.
“It is a bit of a kick in the teeth but it’s at that stage where you know you could lose a player.
“At the same time, a player needs to feel that he’s got a pathway through. Something that’s going to give him a better opportunity.
“It is sad because you’d like them to stay with the club that has brought them up and spent time nurturing them to this point.
“It is a bit of a kick in the teeth. I’d much prefer to see a young lad stay at the club but there’s not much you can do at that age.”