Tottenham Hotspur suffered their first defeat of the 2022/23 campaign on Tuesday evening, with Sporting Lisbon running out 2-0 winners in the Champions League group stage meeting at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
However, aside from the disappointment of a result that leaves Spurs sitting second in what is an exceptionally tricky group – including both Ligue 1 runners-up Olympique de Marseille and reigning Europa League champions Eintracht Frankfurt – the eye-catching performance of one of Sporting’s players will have left a particularly sour taste in the mouths of Tottenham supporters.
Indeed, despite former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino previously stating his belief that then-Tottenham academy prospect, Marcus Edwards, was a player with similar traits to Lionel Messi, chairman Daniel Levy decided against handing the forward a new deal back in the summer of 2019, with the former England U20 international ultimately going on to join Vitoria Guimaraes on a free.
Since then, the 23-year-old has slowly been rebuilding his reputation in the game, scoring nine goals and providing seven assists over 36 appearances in all competitions back in 2019/20, bagging three goals and registering three assists over 36 fixtures in 2020/21 and notching eight goals and providing four assists over just 24 appearances in Vitoria Guimaraes’ 2021/22 campaign.
This impressive form saw Sporting part with close to £9m in order to prise the forward away from northern Portugal this summer, and the attacker has wasted no time in proving he is well worth this outlay, having already scored three goals and registered three assists over just eight appearances in all competitions for Ruben Amorim’s side in 2022/23.
However, the £13.5m-rated winger’s performance against his former side on Tuesday evening was undoubtedly his most notable of the current campaign, causing the Spurs defence no end of trouble via his exceptional ability with the ball at his feet – and very nearly scoring one of the best goals the Champions League has ever seen after a simply breathtaking solo run.
That is sensational, Marcus Edwards! 🤩
A move that had everything but the finish.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 13, 2022
Indeed, over the course of his 89 minutes on the pitch against Tottenham, the player who Andy Lapthorne dubbed “unreal” and Brian Fonseca labelled “immense” took three shots at goal, completed four of his seven attempted dribbles, made two key passes, completed 80% of his total passes and found his man with one cross and one long ball – proving a thorn in Antonio Conte’s side all evening.
However, while there is certainly an argument to be made that Daniel Levy had something of a nightmare when letting a player of Edwards’ ability leave the club for nothing back in 2019, a report by The Telegraph on Wednesday afternoon revealed that the Tottenham chairman did manage to negotiate a 50% sell-on clause in the forward’s contract with Sporting.
As such, with the 23-year-old also having a £52m minimum fee release clause written into his deal, should Levy wish to bring the former England youth international back to the club in the near future, Edwards would only set Spurs back £26m, while, should another club decide to activate the starlets’ clause, Spurs would be in line for a substantial payday of the same amount.
So, while Conte’s first team squad is currently lacking a player who could well prove to be the club’s best academy graduate since Harry Kane, Levy’s work behind the scenes on Edwards’ move from Vitoria Guimaraes to Sporting this summer could actually prove to be something of a transfer masterclass by the 60-year-old.