Shortly before Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hostpur side laboured to a disappointing draw against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, the club’s U19 team also took on the Bundesliga outfit in the UEFA Youth League.
And, while the youngsters suffered a similarly disappointing result at the hands of their hosts, losing 1-0 at Sportpark Dreieich, there was nevertheless one player in the Spurs side who still managed to catch the eye in Germany – Alfie Devine.
Indeed, the 18-year-old midfielder came close to opening the scoring for the visitors in the opening stages of the game, being played through on goal Romaine Mundle, only to fire his shot straight at Matteo Bignetti between the Frankfurt sticks.
The £140-per-week Devine then turned provider shortly afterwards, releasing Mundle into the final third with a fine ball, only for the left-winger to see his eventual effort at goal blocked bravely by Germany U18 right-back Elias Baum.
Shortly after Ferri Julia had given Eintracht the lead on the 25-minute mark, the England U19 international created a chance that almost saw Spurs draw level, surging down the right before squaring to Jamie Donley, however, the centre-forward failed to make clean contact with his attempt at goal.
And, while Frankfurt created the better opportunities in the second half, the £810k-rated talent once again created a big chance for the visitors with 84 minutes on the clock, finding himself in a dangerous position on the left flank, before standing a teasing ball up for the on-rushing Damola Ajayi, only for the substitute to fail to make any real contact with his header.
Devine then had two chances of his own to snatch a point in the closing stages of the match, with the forward-thinking midfielder scooping a shot towards the Eintracht goal in the 89th minute, only to see Baum block his effort on the line, before picking up the rebound and unleashing a second drive at goal, that was once again blocked by a body in the box.
Unfortunately for Tottenham, this was their last meaningful action of the game, with the defeat leaving the youngsters third in the Group D standings, with work to do if they are to have any hope of progressing to the knockout stages of the competition.
However, while the trip back to north London will have been a long one after such a result, the continually creative performance of Devine – especially having recently returned from a hamstring injury – will nevertheless have been a big plus for Tottenham.
Indeed, with Conte’s first-team squad having struggled for both goals and creativity since the international break – failing to score from open play in drab performances against both Arsenal and Eintracht – it would appear the senior side could very much use an injection of creativity in the middle of the park.
As such, while it is true that the player who Harry Brooks dubbed an “all-rounder” and claimed “could play for England one day” is still very much a midfielder in the developmental stage of his career, should Conte place his trust in the teenager, he could well be rewarded with the solution to his current creative woes.