Mauricio Pochettino has done a great job bringing through young English players at both Southampton and Tottenham. The latest player who could benefit from the Argentine’s coaching is Marcus Edwards, a 17-year-old who has come through Spurs’ youth academy. He is now on the fringes of the first team and could play a part in the cup competitions this season. The academy at the club is beginning to bear fruit, with Harry Kane, Josh Onomah and Ryan Mason all breaking into the senior team in recent years. There is hope that Edwards could be the best of the lot and the plaudits are already coming his way.
Before their EFL Cup tie against Gillingham, Pochettino has been talking about the young midfielder and went as far as saying that Edwards reminds him from Lionel Messi. It is too early to be comparing him to other players, considering he has yet to play a match for Tottenham. However, it shows show highly he is thought of at the club and if he can remain focused on his game, he could have a very bright future. Pochettino added:
“He is a very good prospect and, potentially, he can be a top player but we need to be patient and tell him that he has a lot of talent, enough talent to be a top player, a great player, but now it’s how he builds his future – that’s very important.”
These are encouraging quotes for supporters at White Hart Lane and the excitement is beginning to build around Edwards. The expectations need to be managed as he is only 17 and has plenty of developing to do, both mentally and physically. He is at the right club though as Pochettino is excellent at bringing young players through and isn’t afraid to give an opportunity to a player that deserves it, regardless of their age.
Over the summer, Edwards made significant strides at the club, as he featured for the first team during pre-season. He signed a new two-year-deal, committing to the club amidst interest from clubs around Europe. Despite not featuring for the main side since the league campaign began, Edwards is a known talent and clubs will continue following his progress over the next few years.
His best position in the number ten role, as he enjoys the freedom to roam and looks to exploit the space between the lines. Pochettino compared him with Messi, as he has a similarly low centre of gravity and glides past opponents at will. His mobility makes him difficult to stop, as he can quickly turn away from a challenge and move into space vacated by the defender. Although he is very raw, he has already showed in the youth sides that he has a good end product and his decision making belies his years. If he is given a chance in the first team over the coming months, it will only aid his development.
The difficulty for him will be that the North London outfit have a great deal of options in midfield, especially at the number ten role, with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli already fighting for that spot. Edwards may have to accept that at the moment, the opportunities for him in the first team will come on the wings. He has the pace and dribbling ability to have an impact out wide, but long term he will be hoping to be used in a central role, as that provides the freedom to roam in the final third.
Although the comparisons to Lionel Messi are very premature and perhaps a touch unfair, the media have blown them out of proportion. Pochettino was alluding to his dribbling skills and physique rather than talent, as Messi is a one in a generation player. Edwards deserves a chance in the EFL Cup especially, as senior football is the next step for him. A loan move might be an option in the long term, but at the moment, he is only 17 and is being managed correctly by Pochettino.
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