Anthony Gordon lacked ‘mentality’ and ‘couldn’t run’ during pre-season friendly, claims Rafa Benitez

    Rafa Benitez criticised Anthony Gordon’s mentality (Picture: Getty)
    Rafa Benitez criticised Anthony Gordon’s mentality (Picture: Getty)

    Rafa Benitez says Anthony Gordon’s mentality held him back during his time at Everton and says the forward ‘couldn’t run’ during a pre-season friendly.

    The 21-year-old is now a first-team regular at Goodison Park, having made his debut for the club in 2017.

    Gordon’s rise has been rapid and the forward was even the subject of interest from Chelsea last summer, with the Blues keen on signing him.

    Everton were demanding around £60m for Gordon but the Toffees were keen on keeping him and resisted lower offers from Chelsea.

    The asking price was astonishing, not least because Gordon had struggled under Benitez just 12 months ago.

    Gordon struggled under Benitez (Picture: Getty)
    Gordon struggled under Benitez (Picture: Getty)

    The former Liverpool boss only had a short stint with Gordon and noticed the forward’s ability and potential.

    But Benitez was less than impressed with Gordon’s mentality and said the forward could barely last 50 minutes during a pre-season friendly because of his lack of fitness.

    ‘We played in Miami in pre-season and after 50 minutes he couldn’t run. We knew he was a player with quality on the ball, finishing, passing, with pace – but he couldn’t run,’ said Benitez.

    ‘We had that conversation with him after the game, it was hot but a young player should be okay but he had issues with his stamina.

    ‘I was talking with the coaches in the academy and my assistants and then he went to Preston on loan. They said we know he has the talent, but maybe not the mentality. 

    ‘The boy told me, when he was in the national team U19s he was one of the best players, but he wasn’t going to the U21s because they didn’t see how hard he worked.

    ‘He was confident that the way he was training was working. He played 12 games in total with us and he was doing well, I am really pleased to see him progressing. He has to improve some parts of his game – he knows that.

    ‘We were spending time with him, but the main one was to change his mentality, and he was very keen to do it. He was working so hard on the pitch that he was getting better, because he had the potential.’ 

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