Say it ain't so! According to Sky Sports reporter Lyall Thomas, Tottenham Hotspur's young academy graduate Alex Pritchard is very likely to be sold this summer after a difficult 2015-16 season.
Thomas' sources claim that there are two Premier League clubs that have expressed interest in signing the 23-year old attacking midfielder, and that Spurs are hoping to receive at least £8m for him.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. Spurs' manager Mauricio Pochettino had indicated last summer that Pritchard was in his plans for this past season after impressing on loan in the Championship with Brentford in 2014-15. It was thought that Alex was going to be the primary backup to Christian Eriksen, and that this was going to be his big chance to impress at the Premier League level.
But Pritchard picked up an ankle injury while on England duty in the U21 Euros, one that eventually required surgery, and (if you'll pardon the pun) he never really regained his footing. By the time he got healthy again he was well down the pecking order at Tottenham and ended up going out on loan to West Brom for the second half of the season.
Tony Pulis being Tony Pulis, Pritchard never really got a chance there either. Despite becoming somewhat of a fan favorite at the Hawthornes after an early match against Newcastle, Pritchard only made two other appearances for the Baggies this past season, and wasn't even in the squad for the last seven matches.
Lyall Thomas has good sources and this is probably an accurate report, but it's still hugely disappointing. If this is true, it indicates that Spurs no longer think that Pritchard has what it takes to make it on a Champions League caliber Tottenham team. Which may be true, especially if Pritchard has lost half a step after his injury, but it kind of sucks that as fans we never really got to see what he could actually do at this level.
But it's a tough place for Pritch to be. He's got a lot of competition for minutes in the forward attacking band, and he's also 23 now, a year younger than Erik Lamela and the same age as Son Heung-Min. If Pochettino is ready to move all-in on players like Josh Onomah or improve depth in the transfer window, then Pritch could end up being a casualty.
That's not to say that he wouldn't be an asset to another Premier League club, though, which could be why Spurs are valuing him as high as they are. On the surface, £8m feels like a lot of money for an unproven young player just back from injury, but it's hard to really second guess the price in this brave new post-EPL television contract world.
I like Pritch and wish he got a chance to prove himself this past season, but this doesn't look good. Not all Tottenham youth prospects are going to make it at Spurs; it's the reality of youth development. Unfortunately it seems that Alex's disaster of a season last year may be the one that sends him out the door, and it feels a bit unfair.