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 19-year-old defender Milos Veljkovic.
Who is he?
Milos Veljkovic is one of the few returners to our top prospects list from back when we did this in 2013. At that time, we had him pegged as the #4 prospect in our system. He still rates very highly, but some new kids of come onto the scene that have forced him down the list a little.
Veljkovic is primarily a central defender, but has often featured as a holding midfielder for Tottenham's Academy teams. The Serbian youth international made a couple of first team appearances for Spurs as a defensive midfielder under Tim Sherwood, but during the pre-season last year, Mauricio Pochettino used him primarily as a defended. Last season Milos had a couple of Championship loans, one that didn't make sense, and another cut short by a pretty bad shoulder injury.
Milos will be twenty in September, and based on his performances in Serbia's U-20 World Cup winning campaign this summer, he is ready to take the next step in his development.
What can he do?
Milos is a tidy and classy ball-playing center half. If he has one weakness it's that he's not terribly big. He's listed at just 6' tall, and part of me really wonders how accurate that is. While he's limited in terms of size and strength, he does have above average pace for a center back and he's pretty agile at the back.
Milos really put all his skills on display this summer with the Serbian U-20 national team. He played ever minute of the teams U-20 World Cup winning campaign and looked excellent doing so. The Serbian defense allowed 4 goals across seven matches , which was vital because the Serbs only managed 10 goals. When you watch Veljkovic defend, the one thing you notice is how composed he generally looks. He's not constantly diving in or sliding around to block shots, he relies on his skill and positioning to win the ball off attackers. In terms of his offensive game, Milos is clearly good enough on the ball to be considered a part time midfielder. His range of passing is very good and he played some really nice long diagonals out of the back for Serbia this summer.
Where can he go?
This preseason will really give us a good idea of what Pochettino and his staff plan to do with Veljkovic. With so many central defenders on the books already and another one (Toby Alderweireld) rumored to be coming in, the backline is suddenly very crowded with young talent. The midfield, meanwhile, is much less certain. If Veljkovic is going to stay with the club this season, his best shot is probably as a midfielder.
That said, I think Milos could do with some more game time against professionals. His two loans last year were not good. First he joined a Middlesbrough that was pretty well set in central defense with Jonathan Woodgate and Kenneth Omeruo. Then he moved to Charlton, where he started three consecutive games as a defensive midfielder before suffering a season ending shoulder injury. Milos needs to be playing matches this season, whether that is back in the Championship or with a lower premier league side. I think a move back to Charlton might be worthwhile.
After this season, who knows what the future will hold for Milos. If he stays healthy and strings together a season worth of performances like he had this summer for his national team, then who knows what we'll be looking at this time next year. Maybe he'll be the homegrown answer to Tottenham's midfield problems. Sort of like our own version of Francis Coquelin, except, you know, actually good at football.