Promoting young players was a big box to check in the new Tottenham Hotspur coach and this is an area where Nuno Espirito Santo delivers.
One of the major elements of the Tottenham Hotspur DNA is having a coach that is good at working with young players. New Director of Football Fabio Paratici noted in his video remarks on Nuno’s hire that he “did a fantastic job at Wolverhampton in the last four years,” and “developed a lot of young players” according to TottenhamHotspur.com.
Given people are prone to be a bit overly complimentary about the accomplishments of someone they’ve just hired, we wanted to look at Santo youth to see if he really does develop the young. In looking back on the three years Nuno guided Wolves in the Premier League, the Portuguese gaffer has definitely done his part to promote youth.
Nuno Santo gave youth opportunity at Wolves
If you look at the last three seasons where Nuno was in charge of Wolves, he gave debuts to 14 different players in the Premier League under the age of 22, according to Transfermarket.com. With a couple of exceptions from this past season, these did not come in the form of bit-part roles.
Left-back Ruben Vinagre, who was on loan from Famalicao, played 35 matches as a 19-year-old for Wolves. Pedro Neto made 60 top-flight appearances since debuting at 19 under Nuno back in 2019-20, having been lured away from Italian club Lazio. Ruben Neves played 109 Premier League matches after debuting as a 21-year-old.
Nuno actually gives his debutants a chance
The 14 different young players given their debut under Nuno have averaged 33 games in the league and nearly 1900 minutes played. Only Bruno Jordao (21) and Theor Borbeanu (18) were simply spotted debuts and both occurred this season as Wolves struggled to find depth at center forward. Both players only made a single cameo appearances of less than 10 minutes.
Morgan Gibbs White broke into Wolves at 18 but fell on some hard times thereafter. Nuno was willing to loan the young midfielder out to Swansea so he could regain some lost confidence before bringing him back into the mix at Wolves.
How does this translate for Tottenham with Nuno as Head Coach?
The understanding of what a player needs to develop is a crucial element of any rebuild. Clearly Nuno understands when young players are ready and is willing to show faith in them.
Tottenham has an interesting mix of young players, like Oliver Skipp and Dane Scarlett, who may or may not be ready for first team action. We should all rest a bit easier knowing Nuno not only has a good eye for what the right decision is with each player. but when the time is right to deploy the option, like with White.
Developing young players at Tottenham is particularly important, as it has been neglected in the last couple of years as the competition pulls ahead.
Ultimately how successful Tottenham will be in the long term may be determined by how Alfie Devine, Scarlett, and Skipp develop over the next two seasons. Whether or not that impact starts this season will be Nuno’s call, and we should take confidence knowing that he is making those important decisions.