A quick bit of trivia to begin: what do Marcus Edwards, Josh Onomah and Kyle Walker-Peters all have in common?
Pat yourself on the shoulder if you said that they’re all Tottenham academy graduates, but the answer we were really looking for is that they were all victim to the bewildering ‘no loan’ policy during the Mauricio Pochettino era in N17.
*Disclaimer* There wasn’t actually such thing as a ‘no loan’ policy at the club, but there was seemingly a refusal from Pochettino – especially in the early years of his reign – to see talent depart on a temporary basis.
“I prefer to have our young players here and offer them the potential to be first?team players. If you don’t get the opportunities – like Harry [Kane] and some other players – to be involved with the first team it is best to move,” said the Argentine boss, back in 2017.
“Where would we send him? It would be a completely different philosophy…here we try to provide the facility to train with the first team for any player who can cope with the pressure,” he added in the same pre-match presser, speaking about then highly-regarded 18-year-old Kazaiah Sterling.
Now 21, Sterling’s made just two senior appearances for Spurs and has endured three forgettable loan spells in the past 18 months at Sunderland, Doncaster and Leyton Orient.
Pochettino’s reluctance ultimately saw the talented striker stagnate at a crucial time of his development, much like the aforementioned trio involved in the trivia.
But now, with Edwards being so bloody special in Portugal that the club have been linked with bringing him back, Walker-Peters shining at Southampton after finally earning a loan deal and Onomah offering a glimpse of his talent with a majestic finish for Fulham in their Championship play-off semi final against Cardiff, it shows the obvious benefits of providing clearly gifted young footballers opportunities elsewhere if they’re destined to be limited at their parent club.
Spurs’ bewildering policy towards youth development was a huge blunder after seeing Harry Kane and Harry Winks flourish in the senior set-up. But with a new regime at the helm, it appears the Lilywhites have learned from previous errors and are taking a more proactive approach in regards to loaning out youth.
Much to the joy of Spurs fans, Troy Parrott has secured himself a fantastic loan move to Millwall, where he’ll be playing under the progressive Gary Rowett for a highly ambitious club. It’s a fantastic move for all parties, with Parrott hoping to follow in the footsteps of Kane – who enjoyed a six-month loan at The Den in 2012, aged 19.
Summer signing Ryan Sessegnon, meanwhile, is another who could depart on a temporary basis this summer, while Southampton, Burnley, Reading, Nottingham Forest and Fulham are all said to be keen on a loan deal for holding midfielder Oliver Skipp – with a switch to a top-tier Championship side favoured.
Simply put, all of this is music to the ears of Spurs fans who have trawled through ‘Here’s Why Everyone Wants Marcus Edwards!’ videos on YouTube as of late.
While Jose Mourinho certainly isn’t a manager who distrusts raw talent – especially given how he brings up Scott McTominay at every given opportunity regarding his youth policy – he’s someone who likes to limit squad rotation, completely contrasting his predecessor in north London.
When he named an unchanged side from Spurs’ victory against West Ham for their Champions League clash with Olympiacos – just his second game in charge – those who were vigorously refreshing their Twitter timelines for an ASAP glimpse of the starting XI that night couldn’t quite comprehend the revelation that’d revealed itself before them.
As Mourinho seeks to take the club forward into a prosperous era from the start of next season, it’s highly unlikely that those who are currently on the periphery – the Skipps, Sessegnons, Parrotts, etc – will be a major part of the Portuguese boss’ plans. Opportunities will be limited and the possibility of stagnation will be high.
For Skipp in particular, it’s imperative that he secures a move away from north London for the 2020/21 campaign.
The 19-year-old’s a talent who won’t draw much attention due to his unassuming nature and lack of a skin fade, but he’s shown enough promise in his albeit limited senior action at the club to be someone worth keeping.
After shining in the UEFA Youth League for the Under-18s and for the Under-23s in the Premier League 2 – winning the competition’s Player of the Month award for September 2018 – Skipp was handed his first-team debut in an EFL Cup clash at West Ham the following month, enjoying a brief six-minute cameo.
He earned two Premier League starts under Pochettino in the 2018/19 campaign against Burnley and Leicester – impressing against the Clarets but appearing almost overwhelmed by Wilfred Ndidi and the superb Youri Tielemans in the Foxes clash – as his minute tally for the campaign reached over 1,300 (including youth games).
“He is genuinely Tottenham’s future. I see this kid being one day a future captain here by his character and by his personality.”
– Jose Mourinho on Oliver Skipp
Last season, however, Skipp enjoyed a mere 298 minutes of football, as he became a fixture in the first-team picture without earning many opportunities. Thus, youth and reserve team football was out of the picture as well.
The teenager needs game time. It’s that simple.
This is an underrated talent who’s shown plenty of promise. He’s blessed with a reassuring aura in possession in that you know he’s assessed all possibilities before deciding the optimal option, with his ability to evade the press, maintain possession in tight spaces and play vertically creating an impressive, intelligent profile with the ball.
He’s shown incredible maturity and in all honesty, it’s only his physique – or lack thereof – which has prevented Skipp from evolving into a bona fide option at defensive midfield for Mourinho – who rates the teenager highly.
“That Skipp guy is an annoying guy.” “Very good in controlling the play.” “He keeps turning like Frenkie [De Jong].” “Very annoying, I gave him a push.” Those were some of the words muttered by a whole host of Dutch Under-21 internationals of Skipp as the Spurs man starred in England Under-21s’ 2-1 defeat to Holland last November.
‘Skippy’ can play, there’s no doubting that – even if he hasn’t got the minutes or the Instagram profile to show for it – but the signs suggest he could be a major beneficiary of Spurs’ new proactive loan policy.