Everton youth prospect and mooted Manchester United target Beni Baningime has expressed his delight at committing his future to the Merseysiders and is hoping to emulate the likes of Tom Davies and Jonjoe Kenny by breaking into Ronald Koeman's first-team in the not-too-distant future.
Baningime, 19, signed a new two-and-a-half year deal with the Toffees on Thursday (12 October) after impressing the club's hierarchy with his rate of progression and impressive performances.
The Congolese starlet will hope to celebrate his new contract with a victory over Manchester City's Under-23s on Friday evening but is also looking to soon fulfill his "dream" of turning out for the senior squad and can take inspiration from the number of young stars that have been handed first-team action by Koeman, who will be hoping his Everton side can get back to winning ways against Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday [15 October].
"I am very, very happy – thrilled to sign the contract," Baningime told Everton's official website. "I have been working so hard for this and I am just glad David Unsworth and his staff have given me this opportunity.
"My ambition is to make the first team but I will have to see what happens. That is my dream, to play in Everton's first team. It has been ever since I came here. My progress has been fantastic. And it is all down to the coaching staff. Everything about my game, they have helped me with it all and I am extremely grateful.
"I speak to Tom Davies and Jonjoe Kenny and they really want to do well, which inspires you to want to do it as well. So, hopefully, it will happen for me. They are both great talents - but it is the hard work and how they conduct themselves which is really good."
Prior to the signing of his new contract Baningime was being linked with a move to high-flying Manchester United. Jose Mourinho's men were looking to swipe the teenager from Everton's grasp with his previous deal set to run out this summer, according to the Daily Mail, but Everton managed to spoil United's transfer plans by tying Baningime down to fresh terms.
After managing to fend off Manchester United Everton will hope Baningime can become the next in a long line of Toffees youngsters to become a part of the first-team set up at Finch Farm. Under-23s manager David Unsworth, who has been responsible for the development of the Blues' recent youth stars, is confident that Baningime will be the next player off the Everton conveyor belt and believes he is cut from the same cloth as illustrious holding midfield players Claude Makelele and N'Golo Kante, who could be out for up to a month with a hamstring problem.
"He's just of the mould of Makelele, of Kante and, honestly, I cannot pay him a big enough compliment to say he is that good I fully expect him to kick on and be that type of player in our first-team," Unsworth told the Liverpool Echo in April.
"He's blossomed throughout the season, he's learnt from Liam Walsh, Joe Williams and Tom Davies who have been outstanding, so we have a real depth of quality in central midfield. Beni has come on leaps and bounds, he is a lovely boy and I fully expect him to be in our first-team one day."