Tottenham Hotspur boss Nuno Santo has shown that he isn’t afraid to turn to the club’s promising youth system since being handed the job in the summer.
For example, Japhet Tangana and Oliver Skipp have started all four of their Premier League matches thus far, whilst names like Dilan Markanday and Dane Scarlett have featured on the bench, too.
Spurs’ unbeaten start to the season came to an end this weekend and it merely highlighted one of Nuno’s biggest problems in north London right now – their lack of creativity and drive from the engine room.
Perhaps he ought to turn to another academy gem in a bid to fix the problem.
Players like Bukayo Saka, Harvey Elliott and Mason Greenwood have shown that if a young player does have genuine talent, then it doesn’t matter what age they are gifted an opportunity in the big time.
So taking a punt on 17-year-old gem Alfie Devine could be a wild but smart call to make, especially as he continues to light it up for the U23 squad despite still being in his teenage years.
On the same day ten-man Spurs were well-beaten by Crystal Palace, the midfield gem was scoring a brace against his former club, Liverpool, leading to many supporters expressing their desire to see him promoted into the senior set-up.
That took his tally to three goals and one assist across four Premier League 2 appearances this campaign, whilst overall for the club, he has provided eight goals and two assists, including a strike on his senior debut in the FA Cup last term, as per Transfermarkt.
Devine has captained England at youth level and can play anywhere in midfield – no.6. no.8 and no.10.
According to The Athletic, he is a ‘well-rounded central midfielder with an eye for goal’ and ‘is said to have an exceptional attitude, drawing comparisons with Harry Kane.’
These are attributes that has been echoed by his former Wigan academy boss Gregor Rioch.
“His possession stats are very high and he passes the ball forwards, rather than sideways and backwards. He can play holding midfielder and link play up, he can also break forward from midfield with and without the ball and grab a goal,” he told The Athletic.
Similarly, another former coach in Harry Brooks lauded the teenager as “the whole package,” adding: “The talent, the attitude, the ability to always turn it on. The tenacity, the aggression. When it comes to looking at that whole picture, he’s the best player in the academy. He could play for England one day.”
Also praised as “so special” by The Athletic’s Charlie Eccleshare, it could be time for the Portuguese boss to take a punt on Devine. Of course, he’s still young and raw but he is a player that could be unleashed as a secret weapon throughout the season
But at the very least, he deserves a permanent place in the first-team set-up. Spurs could really do with a midfielder that can contribute in that final third.