It’s already all over Twitter and posted in the comments on this site, but in case you missed it: there’s a new Tottenham Hotspur transfer rumor making the rounds, and it involves (another) teenage central defender. According to the Mirror’s transfer ticker, Spurs are reportedly close to the signing of 18-year old Stevenage defender
Gary Rootbeer Ben Wilmot.
Who? Well, that’s what I said, too. I’m not even going to pretend I know anything about this kid. Apparently he’s highly rated as a defensive prospect, can also play right back, and might command a fee of £850,000. There’s even talk that he might (gasp) pull an Eric Dier and move into defensive midfield.
According to Transfermarkt, he’s played in two FA Cup and two League Cup matches for a mid-table Stevenage side in League 2 as a central defender this season, meaning he hasn’t even really made it into Stevenage’s first XI for the league. He has, however, made the bench a bunch of times. Leicester, Brighton, Southampton, and (of course) Liverpool are also linked with him.
So, like, why? Well, first it’s important to focus on one important fact:
It’s the Mirror.
That’s reason enough to put your Skeptical Hat on and leave it glued to your head until there’s an official announcement from Spurs. But aside from that, I turned to Twitter to get a sense of who Ben Wilmot is and what he can do. And he’s got some pretty spectacular highlights.
Spurs have been linked with an 18 year old CB who appears to have not quite broken League 2 Stevenage's first XI.— Nathan A Clark (@NathanAClark) January 14, 2018
I give you Ben Wilmot. pic.twitter.com/fTsEkIIHri
Please contain yourselves. pic.twitter.com/jyxXWGgTXm— Nathan A Clark (@NathanAClark) January 14, 2018
So... that’s not bad. At all, really. Setting aside our semi-permanent state of suspicion when it regards January transfer rumors for a minute, if Spurs do sign this kid there isn’t a shot in hell that he has any impact of the first team this season, and maybe even next. This is the kind of player that we’d expect to slide immediately into the U23s as a deep sleeper development kind of player, or if we want him to continue to get first team football, ship him out on loan.
And there’s nothing wrong with that! Spurs are a team known for building out from their academy, and £850k is practically couch change for a club like Tottenham. We could sign him and he turns into the next Toby Alderweireld and we take a Juan Foyth - Davinson Sanchez - Ben Wilmot back line into the 2023 Champions League finals, or he could flame out and never sniff the first team. And that’s if this whole thing isn’t a bunch of hooey!
But let’s say it isn’t. I’m perfectly ok with Spurs making a few of these kinds of signings in the January window during a time when it’s highly unlikely that we’d do any other business of significance. It’s never a bad idea to take a flyer on a super-young, talented player, banking that a small investment could pay dividends down the road.