Tottenham are quickly becoming renowned as a fine endorsement for the development of young talent. The likes of Harry Kane, Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason have broken into the first-team picture this season, and surely there are more to come. So which unearthed Spurs youngsters are set to emerge in the near future as the club tries to take its place among the title favourites?
Buzzing at the Bees
Brentford loanee Alex Pritchard, who turns 22 in April, showcased his full range of talents with his 10th Championship goal of the season against Derby County earlier this month. The attacking midfielder ran from his own half, cut inside and curled a wonderful effort into the far corner to put his side ahead at Pride Park.
Spurs’ attacking options need freshening up, as do most areas of the squad. Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli are struggling to find form after impressing in the first half of the season. Pritchard would be a perfect option to use in rotation right now, but Tottenham will have to wait until next season to blood him into the first-team squad.
Mauricio Pochettino will also have to wait for Dele Alli. The Football League young Player of the Year nominee is currently on loan at MK Dons, a move sanctioned by Spurs when they bought him from the League One side for £5 million pounds in the January transfer window.
The 19-year-old is most comfortable in the first midfield band of a 4-2-3-1 formation, while his playing style has been compared to that of Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey. As a bonus, Alli contributes a goal just about every four games. Heavily relying on the inexperienced pairing of Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason, Tottenham are desperate for depth in central midfield to relieve the pressure on the duo. Perhaps Alli isn’t quite ready – Spurs will likely sign a more experienced deputy – but his versatile talents will certainly come in handy in the near future.
Alternatively, might Tom Carroll be the solution to Tottenham’s depth problem in central midfield? Currently on loan at Swansea City, Carroll will be 23 years old come the start of next season. The upcoming pre-season could be make-or-break in terms of his long-term future at White Hart Lane.
There have been doubts about Carroll’s physicality in the past, but the midfielder has proven himself to a degree at Swansea. Carroll is clearly talented but has been inconsistent during his loan spells away from Spurs. Perhaps fortunately for Carroll, it’s unlikely Spurs will splash out hugely this summer, meaning a player deemed worthy of a squad place for Swansea will probably be deemed just as capable of making the grade at Tottenham.
Spurs are equally depleted in terms of depth at right-back. The left-back situation is sorted for the foreseeable future, with Danny Rose playing excellently and Ben Davies a worthy second-in-command. The opposite side has been filled by a number of players due to Kyle Walker’s niggling injuries. Eric Dier and Vlad Chiriches have deputised, but it is clear both belong elsewhere; Dier at centre-back and Chiriches at another club.
USA international Deandre Yedlin could be the next youngster to step in. The 21-year-old was given his debut in Tottenham’s defeat to Aston Villa, but didn’t have much time to make an impact. He’s quick, that’s for sure, but there have been doubts over his ability since he has been struggling to even make the development squads’ starting XIs.
Whether Yedlin is the long-term solution at right-back remains to be seen. What is clear however, is that the young American is among a young crop of talented individuals pushing their way into the first-team. The failures of Spurs’ senior players could be seen as a blessing in disguise when considering the positive impact it has on youth prospects breaking through. Tottenham will presumably continue to buy young given what happened the last time they splashed out on “established stars”. With this comes the issue of inexperience, but also a more genuine connection between the fans and the young stars of Spurs’ future.