Daniel Levy edged closer to finding his next Tottenham manager this week.
After suffering quick blows in his pursuit of RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann, who opted to join Bayern Munich in the summer instead, and Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers, who doesn’t want to leave the Champions League-bound Foxes, Spurs are set to hold talks with another mooted target.
Reporting in The Guardian, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano revealed that the north Londoners will speak to Ajax’s Erik ten Hag in the coming days and the 51-year-old is keen to hear what the Lilywhites hierarchy has to offer.
A fresh update emerged on Friday which saw the Dutch boss sign a one-year extension with the Eredivisie champions but according to Romano, he has not turned down Spurs, and it was always their intention to make that decision, presumably to increase his value if any team is to prise him away.
The Dutchman has earned an impressive reputation at the Eredivisie giants, where they are on the cusp of clinching the league title once again. Since his appointment in December 2017, he has accrued a phenomenal win rate of 73%.
Ten Hag learned the bulk of his trade under Pep Guardiola when the pair were at Bayern Munich, with the former Twente centre-back taking charge of the ‘B’ team.
“I learned a lot from Guardiola,” Ten Hag said in February 2019. “His philosophy is sensational, what he did in Barcelona, Bayern and now with Manchester City, that attacking and attractive style sees him win a lot. It’s this structure that I’ve tried to implement with Ajax.”
At Ajax, the “exciting” manager has tinkered between a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 system in a similar vein to Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs. “When it comes to Ten Hag’s favoured style of play, the Cruyffian influence is unavoidable,” claimed Will Magee for iNews. “There is a reason that his approach has been dubbed ‘Total Football 2.0’.”
This brand of football has allowed many a young talent to thrive, including the likes of Frenkie de Jong, who swapped Amsterdam for Barcelona in a £65m deal, and Donny van de Beek, who is now at Spurs’ top-flight rivals Manchester United.
With an average squad age of just 24 at Ajax, it’s clear that Ten Hag is the perfect candidate if Levy is wanting to see the next crop of academy stars make it into the big time. This could be a game-changer for Oliver Skipp, perhaps more than any other Spurs prodigy.
The 20-year-old has enjoyed a successful loan spell at runaway Championship leaders Norwich City, where he has played in every single league game and earned serious praise.
Speaking to Sky Sports, his current Canaries teammate Kenny McLean said: “He makes my job a hell of a lot easier, I’ll tell you that. He’s been outstanding all season and we’re lucky to have him to be honest. For this level, he’s very outstanding and he’s got a huge career ahead of him.”
Norwich manager Daniel Farke has dubbed him everything ranging from “perfect” to being a “top player and also a top character.”
It’s widely thought that Skipp can become a real leader in Spurs’ midfield in the next few years. Jose Mourinho touted him for a huge role back in the summer, saying: “I see this kid being one day a future captain here by his character, by his personality.”
Therefore, appointing a coach like Ten Hag could be game-changing for his chances of achieving just that. He should be buzzing amid these latest developments, that’s for sure.
AND in other news, Spurs should fear Jose Mourinho 2.0 amid worrying Jorge Mendes claims…