Marcus Edwards is perhaps Tottenham Hotspur’s greatest enigma.
Hailed as a generational talent when coming through the ranks, Edwards was even compared to Lionel Messi by manager Mauricio Pochettino, but it all appears to have gone wrong.
He spent the season on loan at Excelsior in the Netherlands and was unable to prevent the club’s relegation from the Eredivisie.
He made a total of 25 appearances and scored twice.
That seems like a relatively paltry return but one must bear in mind that Excelsior managed to score just 46 goals all season; their top scorer, Ali Messaoud, scored seven.
It is in his decision making where the real priorities lie. Both on and off the field, Edwards has something of a chequered history.
A loan spell at Norwich City, for example, was cut short because of “personal reasons” and the Spurs youngster was then criticised for his poor time-keeping and general attitude.
This is a player who has all the tools to be Spurs’ next great talent and, yet, he just can’t seem to put it all together.
Per WhoScored, he averaged 1.1 key passes per game in Holland but managed to register just four assists.
Edwards also averaged 3.3 dribbles per game – an impressive stat that suggests he is excellent at going past his man – but was also dispossessed 2.4 times per game.
It’s frustrating just to look at the stats; it must have been remarkably painful for Excelsior fans to watch.
At the end of the day, Edwards is a talent. He runs with the ball as though it is stuck to his foot and yet, so often, his final pass or his last turn lets him down.
Spurs have had a fair few talents like him; Adel Taarabt is perhaps the poster boy but the likes of Giovani Dos Santos and John Bostock also came and went, having promised to dazzle only to fizzle.
Edwards is in very real danger of becoming the next, and if he is he’ll surely end up a pub quiz question: “Who was the Spurs youngster likened to Lionel Messi who only made one senior appearance?”
It is down to Edwards to change that. He will return to Spurs for pre-season before the team embarks on their tour of Asia, with plenty of youth team prospects and first-teamers alike vying for Pochettino’s attention.
The attacking midfielder could take advantage of that. If he knuckles down and works desperately hard to get into Pochettino’s plans, he just might be able to do it. On his day, he’s a majestic footballer.
The only problem is, his day seems to come around all too rarely.
It is more likely, sadly, that Edwards will end up on the Spurs scrapheap, desperately looking to revive his career elsewhere, yet another tale of unfulfilled potential.