Tom Davies has quietly found some of his most consistent form of late. Key during Everton's recent Merseyside derby triumph over Liverpool, he's been one of his club's leading performers since the turn of the year.
Given the significant sums the Toffees spent on new midfielders last summer, few might have predicted this. Two starts over the first 13 Premier League games this season - one as a wingback - highlighted the challenge those signings presented him. But Allan's injury in December presented an opportunity, which Davies has grasped.
He's started nine of the subsequent 11 Premier League games and earned praise from his manager playing in a deeper position in front of his defenders.
A central midfielder, Davies' role has taken many guises over time. He's fluctuated between attacking, box-to-box, defensive and even right-sided duties. But while Everton's formation has switched around of late, his responsibilities have remained the same, which seems focal to recent progress.
One of Davies' strengths is his ability to see play ahead of him. While this can often result in intelligent forward passes, it's occasionally accompanied by a knack of losing the ball with an overly adventurous pass, or dwelling on it too long.
Playing in this deeper role, he's found a way of ironing out some of those risks. In fact, Davies has been losing the ball less than at any stage of his Premier League career. From averaging a turnover every four touches early on, he's now approaching a far better ratio of every six.
There are other parts of his game on the rise, too. He's become three times as unlikely to lose the ball due to a poor touch or by being dispossessed, coupled with the fact he's been more successful dribbling past opponents.
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Another strength to his game is his confrontational approach off the ball. This has also been elevated, with a significantly increased number of tackles and interceptions. His improving ability to read the game is further emphasised by the fact just two Premier League midfielders average more interceptions per 90 minutes than Davies this season.
His pass to spring Everton's penalty-winning break against Liverpool suggests playing in this deeper role hasn't curbed that natural ability to see what's ahead of him, either.
Picking up a loose ball inside his own box with 10 minutes remaining, most would have expected - or even demanded - a hurried clearance. But Davies spotted Richarlison, calmly played a 40-metre pass, his longest of the game, and ultimately helped Everton play out the final stages with far greater comfort.
Should Davies, who remains 22 until next season, play in the Monday Night Football clash with Southampton, it will be his 122nd Premier League appearance - a total no player has reached for Everton at a younger age.
Thrust into the limelight as a 17-year old debutant, it's easy to forget his relative youth.
This is now the sixth Premier League season the midfielder's featured in and, despite his club's increasing ability to recruit lavish new signings - and Allan's return to fitness - Davies' recent progress suggests he'll appear in several more.
Watch Everton vs Southampton live on Sky Sports
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