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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 10, 2008

Baxter drawing Rooney comparisons at Everton

Another 16-year-old is following in the footsteps of Wayne Rooney as Everton continue their search for new signings.

Manager David Moyes, owner Bill Kenwright and director Robert Earl were locked inside Goodison Park to discuss transfers after a 1-1 friendly draw with PSV Eindhoven yesterday.

But they had just seen Jose Baxter offer a glimpse of the home-grown talent available.

The boy from Bootle came on in the second-half to show flashes of skill and confidence beyond his years, drawing immediate comparisons with Rooney, who also burst onto the Everton stage at a similar age.

Assistant manager Steve Round was delighted at the young midfielder's display.

He said: 'Baxter has a talent to define the game, which is important.

'He can make the moment that matters that wins you a game, whether it be a through pass, a goal, a dribble. What ever it may be.

'He has that talent in him. That is something you cannot give a player, it is just inside them. You have to nurture it and bring it out of him, so he can perform at the highest level.

'It might be a little earlier for him at the moment. It is wrong to compare him with Wayne Rooney. Wayne was a man, physically, when he was 16, he was strong and very advanced.

'But with Jose we may have to wait a little longer for that strength. But if he continues the way he is and maintains the right attitude to learning, there is no reason why he cannot be in our first team very soon.''

Moyes and Everton's hierarchy are trying to spend some of the £10million they have acquired from the Andrew Johnson sale to Fulham.

CSKA Moscow's Vagner Love, the Brazil striker, is believed to be top of their list, initially on a year's loan.

Newcastle's Alan Smith is another deal thought to be close to completing in time for Saturday's Premier League opener against Blackburn.

They will go into the game with a creditable draw against PSV, who led early on through Nordin Amrabat with Mikel Arteta's injury-time penalty securing the draw.

Round, who indicated there will be new faces at Everton soon, said of the current squad: 'Pre-season has been tough because we have really put the players through it, but I have been impressed with their fitness levels, attitude and energy.

'Now the fitness is showing through. The performance against PSV, Dutch champions again, confirmed that. They wanted to slow the game down, we wanted it speeded up to Premier League levels, so it was a good challenge.

'Such a work-out will be of great help when our European matches come around.''

He added: 'The fans may be looking for big money signings, but they can also see the quality coming through the youth ranks.

'I recall things were said a few years back when Manchester United went with youth and the likes of David Beckham and Paul Scholes came through.

'United at that time did not seem to need to spend big on lots of players with good youngsters around.

'It is great for our club that we have so many good kids in reserve here.''

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