Nabil Bentaleb: Young Tottenham Player On Way Up Under Tim Sherwood


Nabil Bentaleb (centre) [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Nabil Bentaleb is a young player who has benefited from the appointment of Tim Sherwood as Head Coach at Tottenham in place of Andre Villas-Boas. He made his first team debut as a substitute against Southampton a fortnight ago and started his first game in the FA Cup tie at the Emirates against Arsenal.

Early Career

Bentaleb has just turned 19-years of age and the French Under-19 international has been with Spurs for two years, signing with the Academy in January, 2012. He was born in Lille, of Algerian origin, and joined his local clubs but having been released at the age of 15, he joined the Belgian club R.E. Mouscron and then USL Dunkerque. He had a trial with Birmingham City before eventually joining Tottenham after a trial in the summer of 2011. He signed a professional contract in September, 2012.

Tim Sherwood as Technical Director with responsibility for the young players is well aware of the capabilities of the youngsters at the club. With such a large squad of professional players at Tottenham, under AVB, few of the young professionals had any opportunity to impress but Bentaleb was one who attracted the attention of the then Head Coach.

Last Season

During last season Bentaleb played for the Tottenham Under-18 team. In the second half of the season he was a regular in the Under-21 side, making 18 appearances and scoring 4 goals, including the only goal away to Arsenal as Spurs secured a place in the play-offs.

Nabil Bentaleb ahead of WBA game [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]In the Next Gen series for Under-19s he was an ever-present as Spurs reached the quarter-finals, scoring with a penalty in the away draw with Anderlecht. In the quarter-final tie against Sporting CP, which Spurs lost, Bentaleb was one of the stand-out players for Tottenham. He showed composure on the ball and his first touch and control impressed. In an article in the French Football Weekly (FFW) his talent was noted and he was described as an ‘enthusiastic player, always on the move’. He had vision and an awareness of players around him and although playing in a holding role he showed in his passing an ability to create for others.

They also noted some weaknesses in his play as he struggled to impose himself on the talented Sporting midfield players and that his ‘frustrations got the better of him’ as we noted in the Cup tie against Arsenal when he made to stamp on the hand of Monreal. He showed that he was a team player, celebrating with team’s late equaliser even though he had been substituted and being the first to console the Spurs goalkeeper who had a nightmare of a game.

Last season Bentaleb was included in the travelling squad for the Europa League game in Lyon and this year AVB included him on the bench for the Capital One Cup tie against Hull City.

Bentaleb after his home debut against WBA [Photo: Jav The_Doc_66]First Team Player

When Tim Sherwood took over as interim manager, his first Premier League game was at Southampton and Bentaleb’s name was the surprise included among the substitutes. It was even more of a shock when with Mousa Dembele having to go off early in the second half that Sherwood sent on Bentaleb rather than the French international midfielder, Etienne Capoue. Spurs were level at 1 – 1 and Bentaleb impressed on his debut as Spurs went on to record their first win under Tim Sherwood. He retained his place on the bench and made two further substitute appearances against West Brom and at Old Trafford where he replaced Capoue for the final 25 minutes.

He was delighted to be involved in the win against United and tweeted afterwards.

"Great win today ! We shaw massive character and desire for the all 95th min"

Bentaleb showed composure and a confidence in his play. He was never over-awed by the situation and worked hard in midfield doing the simple things and keeping the ball moving. It was a further surprise, however, that the young Frenchman was selected to start the Cup tie against Arsenal. In the highly charged atmosphere of a north London derby it was difficult to make an impression as the tempo was so frenetic and when Arsenal broke from defence playing the ball forward at such pace. Bentaleb played the whole game and didn’t let the side down, working hard in what was a disappointing display by Spurs.

Nabil Bentaleb v WBA [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Bentaleb has shown an assurance in his play and it will be interesting to see his career develops when Tottenham’s injury problems ease and senior players return to reclaim their place in the team. Tim Sherwood obviously has every confidence in the ability of the young player and Bentaleb hasn’t let him down in his first appearances in the senior team.