Tottenham Hotspur play their first of five preseason friendlies tomorrow when they face Leyton Orient at 10 a.m. ET / 3 p.m. UK at the Breyer Group Stadium, a match that will be streamed for free on Spurs TV (registration required). Tottenham’s international stars that participated in the EUROs have not yet reported, which means that Nuno Espirito Santo will be fielding a team that will contain a mix of first teamers and youngsters, including a number of promising players from Spurs’ academy.
Friendlies are more about fitness than about tactics, and there probably isn’t going to be a lot that we can glean from these early games. However, it will give us an excellent opportunity to get a good look at some of the younger players on the fringe of the first team that we normally don’t get a chance to see, and that’s pretty exciting.
There’s a sense that this current crop of Tottenham youngsters coming out of the academy could be really special, potentially one of the best youth generations of the past decade. It’s made limiting this article to just a few players difficult. But here are five players that I’m intensely curious to see play for Spurs in preseason, even if in most cases it may be a couple of years before they’re realistically in the conversation for the first team. These might not be the BEST players out of the current crop of youngsters — just ones I’m especially interested in for various reasons.
You’ve probably heard of TJ Eyoma, a central defender who had a fantastic loan at Lincoln City last season as a regular starter and helping take the Imps to the playoff championship game. But while Eyoma is likely going to feature some for Nuno’s preseason teams at some point, I’m not talking about him today because I want to talk about Maksim Paskotsi. Never heard of this kid? You’re not alone. Paskotsi, an Estonian international central defender, was signed last September for an undisclosed fee.
But did you catch that? Despite being only 18 and without any minutes for the Spurs U23s much less the first team, Paskotsi is a full Estonian international with four national team caps, and was part of the Estonian team that won the Baltic Cup, beating Lithuania. Paskotsi is considered a huge talent, a complete defender with excellent pace and good positioning and tackling ability. Football.London confirmed that he’s been training with the first team over the past two weeks, which has led to some speculation that he could get some minutes at Orient tomorrow.
I’m under no illusions that Paskotsi is anywhere near the first team — if anything he’s probably behind Eyoma in the pecking order right now — but getting caps at the European international level is kind of a big deal, even if it’s for a smallish UEFA club like Estonia. I’m extremely Paskotsi-curious.
Ever since Jose Mourinho handed him his club debut last year as a 16-year old in the Europa League against Ludogorets, Scarlett’s star has been on the rise. He picked up an assist in that match and just like that — choo-choo — a new hype train left the station. Mourinho even said that he wanted Scarlett in the first team next season. We’ll see if Nuno agrees, but Scarlett is already making waves both domestically and internationally.
Scarlett has been a volume goal scorer this past season, scoring 25 goals in all competitions — 17 at the U18 level, three goals (in five appearances) with the U23s, and five in the FA Youth Cup. Strangely, he has yet to be called up past the England U15 level, but he’s clearly a youngster on the rise and I’d expect more opportunities will come his way this season.
Is he ready to jump in and be Harry Kane’s backup? Unlikely. However, he might be ready for some European Conference League minutes, especially in the early rounds, and that’s pretty exciting. And hopefully we may see what he looks like against lower league opportunities in the preseason.
If there’s a young Tottenham player that looks to be directly on the path to the Spurs first team, it’s probably Devine. He became Spurs’ youngest ever goalscorer when he fired home Spurs’ second in the FA Cup match against Marine last fall, and the Wigan academy product has been described as having a “real spark” by none other than Japhet Tanganga.
Devine was also involved in a notable incident after he went in two-footed on Chelsea’s Danny Drinkwater, prompting the Premier League veteran to respond and earning them both red cards, proving that, yeah, he’s still a teenager.
Wigan were distraught that they weren’t able to keep ahold of Devine, which speaks to his significant potential and ability. A central midfielder, he loves to push forward and pop up in the attacking areas, and there have been suggestions already that he’s not going to be heading out on loan this year, opting instead to stay and train with the first team. That suggests that he could play in the Europa Conference League. We’ve only seen glimpses of his ability thus far, but there’s a lot to like from Alfie.
Last season wasn’t the most auspicious of years for Troy, but neither was it a disaster. Initially sent to Millwall in the Championship on loan, Troy picked up an early injury and then never got back into Millwall’s plans. There were also suggestions that Millwall’s tactics weren’t a good fit for Troy, who was recalled in December and then sent back out on loan to Ipswich in League One, where he scored two goals and was a regular starter.
Troy didn’t make “the leap” that people expected him to, which resulted in a lot of fans abandoning the Parrott hype train. But Troy had a couple of good performances at the senior level for Ireland including a brace against Andorra. He’s still obviously a monster talent and he’ll be keen to put on a good display for his new Spurs gaffer, if given a chance.
With apologies to Dennis Cirkin (another young fullback earmarked for success at Tottenham), 20-year old right back Marcel Lavinier might be the brighter star. A Chelsea academy product, Spurs snapped him up after he was released by the Blues in 2020 and is another young player given his debut by Mourinho. He’s a dual international who has been called up by both England and Portugal, but with caps only for the Young Lions.
The kid is FAST, and is an offensively-minded fullback who can slot in all the way across the back line. He’s also played in midfield and has a pretty good shot on him.
Lavinier has been compared to Tariq Lamptey which makes you wonder why Chelsea let him go to begin with. His path to the Chelsea first team may have been blocked, but it sure looks like there’s a void opening up at the position at Spurs in the near future. He’s probably not ready for that quite yet, but he can sure make a statement that he belongs in the wings, waiting for his chance, and that starts in preseason.
I could have written another 1000 words on some of the other young players we could see in the coming weeks, and it’s quite possible that someone will come out of nowhere and impress. Also keep an eye out for players such as the aforementioned TJ Eyoma and Dennis Cirkin, central midfielders Nile John and Harvey White, along with defenders Jubril Okedina and Toby Omole.