Cartilage Free Captain is again reviewing and ranking the top 15 youth prospects at Tottenham Hotspur to see which players have the best potential to follow players like Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, and Nabil Bentaleb into the Tottenham first team. The rules for inclusion are as follows:
- The player had to be 21 or under on January 1, 2015
- The player cannot have seen significant match time with Tottenham's first team
Next on our list is 17-year-old attacking midfielder/winger Musa Yahaya.
Who is he?
Yahaya is a bit of a mystery, honestly. We do know that he is primarily a right-footed left winger, who likes to drift around the attacking band. In the most recent competitive matches Yahaya played, he played mainly on the right wing. Given the results, it seems like he's definitely capable of playing that position as well.
Yahaya joined Spurs last summer, though no one with the club has every really confirmed this. Yahaya has, apparently, spent much of the year training at the club and working on learning English. He is not yet eligible to sign a professional contract with the club, as he has not yet qualified for a work permit. I'm not certain if he will qualify for one for this season, so he may remain shrouded in mystery for another season. He'll turn 18 in December, so I imagine we could probably sign him to a professional deal in January and then hopefully he can start playing with the youth teams.
I can't decide if 11th on our list is high for Yahaya or not. On the one hand, he's a Nigerian youth international, who has represented his country at the U-20 level. On the other, he has virtually no professional experience and is probably a lot further from the senior team than many of the other players on this list.
What can he do?
When Yahaya "signed" for Spurs he was billed as the "new Iniesta." This was coming off the back of a dominant performance for Nigeria's U-17 team in the U-17 World Cup in 2013. Yahaya was 15 at the time, and he scored 4 goals for Nigeria, who ended up winning the tournament.
Certainly, the "new Iniesta" tag is mostly hyperbole, but that doesn't mean that the kid is not skilled. Based on what little tape is available on Yahaya, mostly from this summer's U-20 World Cup. Yahaya showed of some slick passing skills and even some ability in front of goal. He played mostly out wide for the Nigerian team and really only played a part in the first group game. In that game he scored a goal and added a nice assist, but he didn't really work hard off the ball and found himself dropped from the team for the remainder of Nigeria's matches. Here are Yahaya's highlights from that match:
The big question for Yahaya is when is he going to get to play. The work permit rules for players that aren't playing for their senior national teams are kind of weird, so I'm not certain when or if Yahaya will qualify for a work permit. Once he has one though, I'd expect his development to really take off.
Where can he go?
Honestly, I have no idea. I worry that Yahaya will wind up like Souleymane Coulibaly. Another much-hyped young African prospect who never quite put it together at the club level. Yahya, at the very least, has a lot of time left to develop, as he is one of the younger prospects on our list. The fact that he's already been capped at the U-20 level for Nigeria, who traditionally have some very strong youth teams, also speaks very highly of his skill level in comparison to his peers. If we had seen more of him over the last year or so, or if he had featured at all for the Tottenham youth teams, Yahaya might have been much higher on this list.
If you were to put me on the spot, I'd say that Yahaya has the biggest boom or bust potential of anyone on this list. If everything breaks right for Spurs and Yahaya, he could wind up as an excellent creative player. However, it's probably much more likely that he winds up crashing out and never making an impact for the club, like Coulibaly.