Yesterday was a pretty positive day for Tottenham Hotspur, and especially for Dane Scarlett. The 16-year old academy striker became the youngest Tottenham player to provide an assist in a Europa League match and the first sixteen year old to do so since some kid named Kylian Mbappe did it (against Spurs) back in 2015.
In his 17-minute cameo, Scarlett looked bright, making good runs and asserting himself well. It was his pressure of a Wolfsberg defender that forced a turnover just outside of the box that was swept in (some would say unfairly) by Carlos Vinicius for his second goal. Beyond that, Dane was making well-identified runs off the ball to get into good positions and did not look intimidated by the prospect of playing against footballers literally twice his age.
While Scarlett wasn’t the only Spurs academy prospect to get minutes in that match — Mourinho also handed club debuts to 20-year old fullback Marcel Lavnier and 17-year old midfielder Nile John — Dane’s performance certainly turned the most heads. After the match, his manager said that he wants Scarlett in the first team next season.
“Dane has incredible talent. I don’t want to speak too much because tomorrow I arrive in the building and the kid’s boss [U18s coach Matt Taylor] is going to kill me! I don’t want that so I don’t want to speak too well about him.
“I just want to say that he will be 17 next month and I want him to be part of the first team squad next season. So this season he is there and here, goes to training sessions with us and matches with the kids of his age and trains there. Next season he has to be a first team player. Immense talent. Very good physical development.
“He’s very good, he’s going to be very good. I hope that nothing is going to destroy that potential. He must have feet on the ground and head on his shoulders because he has a fantastic talent.”
For years now we’ve looked at Troy Parrott as the next great academy striker at Tottenham, and that may still be the case despite an injury affected somewhat disappointing season on loan. And academy development, of course, is a hugely complicated thing. But Scarlett is clearly the new hotness within the Spurs academy, and for good reason. The kid looks super strong, has good strikers’ instincts, and is on a positive development path at the moment, but he’s likely at least a couple of years away from being a viable option as a Premier League footballer.
Even so, if Spurs can keep ahold of him (not a sure thing with young players these days) Tottenham might have a real gem on their hands. Scarlett can’t sign a professional contract until he turns 17, and whether he does so quickly could be telling as to what his future at Spurs may hold. That Mourinho is already willing to promise him a spot with the first team next season is a pretty strong indication that he sees very good things for Dane on the road ahead.