Mauricio Pochettino is continuing to establish himself as a symbol of hope for academy players across the country following his success with a multitude of young players at Tottenham Hotspur.
The art of bringing young players through the ranks and embedding them into the senior squad is nearing the point of extinction. Cash riddled clubs with short-term demands coming from the boardroom bigwigs feel the squeeze of time pressures and opt to utilise their riches in the transfer market before considering the promotion of youth – but not Tottenham.
Pochettino is an exception to the rule, a beacon of hope for young players everywhere that perhaps his example of success can shift modern attitudes. Just a few weeks ago, Juan Foyth, a player who was ominously absent after moving to England from Argentina, began to assert his case for a starting berth.
It was not plain sailing for the young Argentina international as he conceded two penalties against Wolves, was fortunate to avoid conceding another spot-kick against Chelsea and then fatally lost possession as Arsenal burst forward to inflict north London derby misery at the start of December.
And, by an accident of fate more than anything, Pochettino’s hand was forced in the Nou Camp on matchday six of the Champions League group stage as Kyle Walker-Peters was handed a starting berth in the absence of both Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier.
The 21-year-old was at fault for Barcelona’s opener but he recovered from his early mistake with a decent all-round display, and he continued to enhance his reputation in north London with a brilliant display against Bournemouth on Boxing Day.
Indeed, Walker-Peters was solid in defence and a constant threat moving forward, providing width and overlapping runs throughout proceedings. His reward: three assists and a glowing appraisal from his manager after the game (via London Evening Standard).
“It’s no surprise to me. I told you after the match in Barcelona that we really believe in him and he has amazing quality and only needs time to mature and show his quality.
“I’m so pleased, so happy, because I think his quality is going to help the team this season and for the future he’s going to be a very important player for Tottenham.”
Standing at 5’8″ Walker-Peters is physically comparable to both Trippier and Aurier, while his comfort in possession of the ball also bears similarity to his first-team rivals.
Like Foyth, his limited experience will ensure a tough time in breaking into the senior squad, but his showing against the Cherries was a telling indicator of his ability to thrive at this level.
With Pochettino expressing such gushing admiration for Walker-Peters and hinting at a long-term future with the club, it’s easy to see why the essence of his philosophy in regard to young players has been such a resounding success at Tottenham.
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