Last week we talked about one player, Harry Kane, who's currently with the England U-20 team at the World Cup. Today, we bring you another player who's talent is on display at that tournament: Alex Pritchard.
Who is he?
Alex Pritchard is a 20 year old attacking midfielder who began his youth career at West Ham United before moving to Tottenham Hotspur in 2009 at the age of 16. Since joining, Pritchard has impressed at every level he's participated in and scored goals too. He was Tottenham Hotspur's top scorer in the 2011-12 Next Gen Series with four goals and he added another four goals in this seasons competition. He also managed 6 goals in the U-21 Premier League this season.
In January, there was speculation that Liverpool were attempting to buy Pritchard, but the youngster signed a new 2-and-a-half year deal with Spurs and was subsequently loaned out to Peterborough United. Unfortunately, two weeks into the loan Pritchard suffered an ankle injury and missed six weeks of the season. He eventually returned in mid-April and he made 6 total appearances for the Championship club, two of which were as a starter. In his limited action the midfielder still managed to notch 2 assists.
What can he do?
Pritchard is an attacking midfielder who is most comfortable playing in the hole behind the striker or on the left wing. He's capable of playing deeper in midfield, but this seems to neutralize some of his effectiveness as a dribbler and a goalscorer. While at Peterborough, the right footed Pritchard played mostly on the left wing where he used his skill on the ball to either cut inside or deliver inch-perfect crosses. Pritchard's best skill is his ability to strike the ball with precision. He's an excellent freekick taker and a number of his youth goals came from set pieces. His crossing is also wonderful. So good is he as a crosser, that right now he's probably the best cross of the ball that Tottenham have.
Physically, Pritchard isn't big and strong and he's not terribly fast but he displays a good burst of speed on the ball and that combined with his skill tend to allow him to get the better of opposition fullbacks. He's a bit like Gylfi Sigurdsson in that regard. Sigurdsson is certainly bigger and stronger, but the Icelandic attacker doesn't possess a great turn of space and he still finds ways to be effective.
Prichard isn't great defensively, but he has shown a willingness to work when his team is not in possession. When Spurs do take possession, Pritchard is always looking to get on the ball and impose his will on the game. In a team with so many stand-out attacking midfielders it is amazing just how much influence Pritchard is able to exert on a game.
Where can he go?
Pritchard played in the Championship last season and, as I've said in other posts, I don't think that the Championship is a place that best fosters the development of young attackers. However, a loan to a team like Wigan or Blackpool would be good. In fact, Blackpool might be an excellent destination as Pritchard could slot in immediately for the soon-to-depart Tom Ince.
Pritchard definitely has a future with Spurs. The problem for him will be overcome the sheer mass of talent ahead of him on the depth chart. Tottenham have Gareth Bale, Sigurdsson, Andros Townsend, Aaron Lennon, and Lewis Holtby who are all capable of playing his preferred positions. Should he manage a good season on loan this year, Pritchard could force his way into consideration for a place in the team. If his development continues on this track Pritchard could certainly be a contributor for a top tier team in the Barclay's Premier League.