Tottenham Hotspur Prospect Rankings, #8: Shaquile Coulthirst

Chris Brunskill

The countdown towards Tottenham's best youngster continues with an explosive striker whose performances in a Spurs shirt just keep getting better and better.

Summarily, it's possible to describe 18 year-old forward Shaquile Coulthirst's progress through the Spurs ranks during his very brief time at the club with the exact same word I'd use to describe his style of play: unstoppable.

Having topped the U18 scoring chart with 11 goals in 21 appearances last year, Hackney-born Coulthirst was a dominant force for Spurs' U21 side this year, with the highlight of his season coming in a NextGen tie against Barcelona that saw him net a scintillating perfect hat trick. Coulthirst only managed to net three times in the inaugural U21 League this season- but to focus on his goal-scoring alone is to ignore a big part of why Coulthirst is such a prized asset to Spurs' youth coaching staff.

Though he hardly towers above his peers, it's impossible to overstate Shaq's physicality and low centre of gravity, which make him nigh-on impossible to knock off the ball. This, in addition to his vision and quick thinking, means that he has provided assist after assist for teammates all season through holdup play and clever, well-timed releases of the ball; when you consider his pace and hunger to get on the scoresheet, Coulthirst begins to look more and more like an almost complete forward. My usual point of comparison for him is Carlos Tevez, another strong forward with excellent close control and a trequartista-esque eye for the key pass.

Coulthirst has spent the past year being coached and played as a lone forward in a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 system. To me, this indicates that he's in the process of being groomed to slot into Andre Villas-Boas' preferred tactics in the future. He's still a way off being ready yet- as with many of the guys on this list he's still not the master of his game yet, with profligacy and decision-making on one-on-ones representing problem areas for him to iron out.

He has a good few years to work on these issues though, while his athleticism and natural striker's instincts will continually stand him in good stead as he progresses towards the promise of first team action. A call-up and debut goal for England's U19 squad recently is another big step forward in this direction, and only further cements Shaq's growing reputation as a player that needs to be watched closely in the years to come.

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