Way back in April 2009 I asked the question…Are Spurs on the brink of a golden age? This was driven in the main by the Tottenham Under-16’s winning the Legnago Tournament in Italy in 2008. Beating Barcelona in the semi’s and Sporting Lisbon in the final, who probably have two of the best academies in Europe.
Now nobody expects the whole side from 2008 to be pulling up trees in the Tottenham first-team come 2011. Indeed, in an age where owners demand and managers need results. It would be foolhardy to expect Spurs to do this. Especially given the quality, that is flowing throughout the first-team squad at White Hart Lane this season. However, the Europa League has given Harry Redknapp the chance to have a look at some of the youngsters at his disposal. With one in particular standing head and shoulders above the others and that is Tom Carroll; the catalyst of Spurs’ triumph back in 2008.
One way to describe Carroll, would be, built like Luka Modric, plays like Luka Modric. Hefty praise maybe for someone, who has just played a handful of games for Tottenham? But I, like former Everton player Pat Nevin, believe young Tom has a real future in the game. Blessed with fantastic vision and great technical ability, Carroll has already developed an almost telepathic understanding with another youngster at the club in striker Harry Kane. The time the pair both spent on loan at Leyton Orient coinciding, with the League One club’s upturn in form towards the back end of last season, which almost saw Orient make the play-offs.
That said, Carroll is just one player as good as he may turn out to be. With Tottenham not really having any tradition of churning out good youngsters on a conveyer belt – Ledley King the only real quality player to come through the ranks in the past ten years or so and really establish himself at Spurs. Jake Livermore and Andros Townsend, who are currently putting a good case forward for regular first-team football, could be two more to make their mark at White Hart Lane.
But what of the future beyond the likes of Carroll, Kane, Livermore and Townsend…….is there anyone else on the books, who could become a star? Perhaps? 18-year-old first-year professional Jesse Waller-Lassen looks a good prospect. An attacking-midfielder, who chips in with goals and has that ability to boss a game. Something he did on one of my jaunts to Spurs Lodge last December in a Premier League Academy game against Birmingham.
Three more to look out for are Australian central-midfielder Massimo Luongo aged 19, who joined the Academy last January and has already impressed enough to earn a pro contract and make his senior debut for Tottenham in the Carling Cup. Unfortunately missing the penalty, which saw Stoke go through. 16-year-old striker Souleymane Coulibaly from the Ivory Coast, could be a world beater. Arriving from Siena in the summer following his Golden Boot winning performance in the Under-17 World Cup. Nine goals in four matches, with four of those coming against Brazil. The diminutive forward has had no trouble finding the net in his debut for the Tottenham XI against Brighton in pre-season and in the NextGen youth Tournament against Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven.
Last, but not least is Spaniard Cristian Ceballos, who arrived from Barcelona in the summer. An 18-year-old, who plays as an attacking-midfielder or forward, who is not really one of Spurs’ own. If he can get anywhere near emulating, what Cesc Fabregas did at Arsenal, he will make a lot of Tottenham fans very happy.
It remains to be seen if any of the above make the grade at The Lane, but with a solid chairman in Levy, a great manager in Harry, a first-team squad full of quality throughout and a good bunch of kids starting to knock on the door. Along with a new stadium hopefully on the way. Is the future a bright one at Spurs?