Mauricio Pochettino Eyes Tottenham Youth


On 27 May 2014, Mauricio Pochettino replaced, smart-mouthed, Tim Sherwood as Head Coach of Tottenham Hotspur. Along with, Spurs’ Chairman, Daniel Levy’s formidable aspiration to bring Champions League football to the freshly mown grass of White Hart Lane, Pochettino is also wanted to raise the next generation of Lilywhites and develop the youth system at Spurs. 

“We have a man who knows the right balance between experience and youth” – Daniel Levy speaking to Sky Sports

Pochettino is widely credited by pundits with the development of  the youth of Southampton during his one and a half a season tenure at the, last season, 8th placed Premier League club.

The Ex-Saints manager allowed talent such as fullback Luke Shaw and midfielder Adam Lallana to burst through and become England Internationals in a matter of 18 months. This opportunity also allowed other clubs to spot this rapport of talent and the services of Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana have been purchased for around £27m, for Shaw, and a fee believed to be £25m, for Lallana, by Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.

Tasked with pre-season friendlies to find out his perfect Tottenham side, Pochettino has taken advantage of his 24-man squad and has chosen both experienced and youth players to join him on the THFC Tour of the USA. With a 3-3 draw against Seattle Sounders and a 3-2 win against Jermain Defoe’s Toronto FC, the lilywhite manager has experimented with various young players who, I think, Tottenham fans should be very anxious and excited for. Below are my top 3 Spurs youth players worth keeping an eye on.

Cristian Ceballos

The 21 year old Spanish midfielder spent last season at the Portuguese First Division side Arouca on loan and made 16 appearances and scoring 1 goal. At 11 years old he joined Barcelona’s youth academy and demonstrated a high work rate and superb technical ability. He made his way up the lower divisions until reaching the Barcelona B team and in 2011 joined Tottenham’s youth squad. There he honed his ability under figures such as Tim Sherwood and in 2014 he returned from his loan spell.

Ceballos “the little striker” was impressive in both the friendlies in which he played, showing pace and skilled dribbling.

In the Toronto game, Ceballos was brought on in the 2nd half and immediately had an impact. The young midfielder helped the mighty Spurs snatch the win from a challenging Toronto side who exploited the lack of co-operation between Fryers and Dawson. Whilst watching both games I quickly realised the energy and thirst that Cristian displayed as he chased after the ball – with a little more discipline, I believe he can play at the top tier of English football very soon. 

Miloš Veljković

Veljković, a Serbian centre-half, is only the young age of 18 and has already made 2 appearances for us and has silently impressed myself in both. He has been named on the bench various times throughout last season but finally got a run-about in our 5-1 victory against Sunderland and a larger part in our 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

Milos was part of the Serbian team who won the 2013 UEFA European Under-19 Championship with a 1-0 victory against France.

The young Serb is also one of the youth players Pochettino has taken with him to the USA and he has looked better than some of our ageing and experienced defenders. Paired with Kaboul in our dominant first half over Toronto, in which Erik Lamela bagged two almost identical goals, the defence rarely looked challenged as he showed us what a young capable player he can be.

In my opinion, our defence is gradually becoming weaker by the turn of a new season and we are seriously lacking depth. With Michael Dawson making defensive errors almost every half, Pochettino will have to look at other options to replace our passionate and lovable captain. Could Veljkovic be the answer? No, not yet but in the long term this man may be one to keep a hold of.

Harry Winks

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Winks is an 18 year old midfielder who regularly features for our U-18 squad. Harry is not part of the squad that is currently touring the USA but I felt that he deserved a strong mention as he is a very bright prospect in English football.

Winks also came off the bench and scored in England’s U-18 2-1 over Germany.

Our late and abrupt manager, Tim Sherwood, greatly favoured Harry Winks and benched him against Benfica last season in the Europa League. With Pochettino now in charge, we will see if Winks is given an opportunity to shine and, in 3-4 seasons, stun the Premier League just like his previous counterparts, Glenn Hoddle, Ledley King and Peter Crouch have done in days gone by.