Marcus Edwards was once likened to Lionel Messi by former Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino and we’re finally starting to see that potential shine through.
Only it’s away from north London.
The 23-year-old was let go in the summer of 2019 and two-and-a-half years later, he has secured a pretty lucrative move in Portugal, where he has been thriving ever since.
Indeed, the former England U20 international joined Primeira Liga champions Sporting Lisbon for €7.67m (£6.5m), signing a contract until 2026. A club famed for its youth system, one that saw the likes of Ballon d’Or winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo break through.
He signed for Ruben Amorim’s Lions from Vitoria Guimaraes, where he delivered 20 goals and 16 assists across 96 appearances, which worked out to be one direct goal contribution every 175.6 minutes, via Transfermarkt.
A very respectable return for a young player that was cast away by the Premier League giants, perhaps a little prematurely.
“The qualities – it’s only looks, his body and the way that he plays – remember a little bit from the beginning of Messi,” Pochettino revealed back in 2016 (via Sky Sports).
“He’s small, he’s left-footed, I remember a little bit [Erik] Lamela when he was at River Plate, remember he had long hair, when he was 14, 15 years old, there is a lot of videos on YouTube that you can see, that he took the ball, didn’t give a pass and shot straight away.
“He [Edwards] is a very good prospect and potentially he can be a top player, but we need to be patient and tell him that he has a lot of talent, enough talent to be a top player, a great player.”
At the time of his exit from the Lilywhites, the English winger was valued at a lowly £1.13m (Transfermarkt). That has since skyrocketed 935% to £11.7m – more than the price Sporting Lisbon paid, so they’re getting quite the bargain.
“He is of a bizarre level, what he can do is really not normal, I have not experienced a better player in my career, and Mauricio Pochettino did not make that comparison with Messi for nothing,” former Excelsior Rotterdam teammate Jeffry Fortes once told Voetbal International.
Given his age, Edwards is still nowhere near competing at the top of his game, so this may merely be the beginning of a long, fruitful and successful career, one that Spurs will undoubtedly regret missing out on now.
Those around Hotspur Way thought they were grooming a real star of the future in the Messi-like gem, but it’s over in Portugal where this flower has blossomed.