Back by popular demand, Cartilage Free Captain is again reviewing and ranking the top 10 youth prospects at Tottenham Hotspur to see which players have the best potential to follow current players like Harry Kane and Harry Winks, and former Spurs players like Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason, and Andros Townsend into the Tottenham first team. The rules for inclusion are as follows:
- The player had to be 21 or under on January 1, 2017
- The player cannot have seen significant match time with Tottenham's first team
We start our top ten list today with everyone’s favorite child-actor-slash-football-player Will Miller.
Who is he?
Will Miller is a 21 year-old attacking midfielder/striker. He’s probably better known for his acting career, having portrayed Oliver Twist in a BBC adaption of Charles Dickens’ famous novel.
Miller finds his way into the top 10 of our list largely due to being one of the academy kids to play at the highest level of professional football. Miller spent much of last season on loan at Championship club Burton Albion, making 15 appearances for the Brewers as they finished 20th in their first season in the Championship.
What can he do?
Miller spent much of his time in the Tottenham academy playing all across the attacking band in Tottenham’s 4-2-3-1. While on loan at Burton, however, Miller played a lot of striker in the club’s 3-5-2. Also, as is expected of all Tottenham Hotspur youngsters, Miller has played a bit of left back, having featured there during last season’s pre-season tour of Australia.
Miller seemed to win plaudits from his manager at Burton,
Brian Nigel Clough, but found playing time in the second half of the season limited after the Brewers made five other loan signings in January. Given the Championship’s loan rules, Clough was forced to decide which five of his six loanees would be involved in the first team during a given week. Unfortunately, Miller seemed to often be the odd man out.
Throughout his time in the academy, Miller’s not been much of a scorer, having managed only 8 goals in his time for the U-23’s and one more while on loan at Burton. Instead, Miller, is much happier to create, drifting about in the half-spaces and using his pace to open up defenses before laying off a final ball.
The problem, it seems, for Miller is that no one is quite sure what his position is. He’s kind of in that weird spot where Harry Kane was four years ago. Is he second striker? A number 10? A 9? It’s unclear. I imagine the answer to that question will come with more game time.
Where can he go?
Other than the kids that have already broken into the first team, Onomah, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and, though he is no longer on this list, Harry Winks, Miller probably has the highest floor of any player in the top 10. Game time in the Championship is not to be frowned on and, by all accounts, Miller acquitted himself well on loan. That alone puts him closer to being a Premier League player than just about everyone on this list.
On the other hand, Miller’s ceiling is considerably lower than the likes of Marcus Edwards or Tashan Oakley-Boothe. Miller is safe. A guy that’s probably going to be a good Championship to lower-half Premier League player.
Miller has been frequently praised for his work-rate, positioning, and vision. If he can add finishing to that list, it’s not difficult to see him becoming a very useful as a super-sub sort of striker. Think Bournemouth’s Josh King, before his breakout 2016-17 season.
While he was always fairly diminutive in the youth ranks, Miller seems to have grown into his body a bit more in recent years. Everywhere on the internet seems to have him listed at 5’5”, but if you watch clips of him, he’s not that much shorter than most of his teammates. I’d peg him at about 5’10” now, which is perfectly reasonable. That said, Miller needs to add a bit more physicality to his game. He found the going in the Championship tough initially, getting muscled off the ball by bigger and more experienced defenders.
If Miller goes out on loan again, he’ll need to prove he has the strength to play consistently against professional opposition and that he can finish or create week in and week out.
Popular wisdom seems to be that going out on loan is the death knell of a youngster’s Spurs career. Maybe that’s true for the ones that head to League Two, but Miller was the only one to get a move to England’s second tier and I think that means something. Whether his future is at Tottenham or not, he is clearly one of the most advanced young players Spurs have on their books right now.