It’s not an incoming transfer, but it might as well be. According to David Ornstein, Tottenham Hotspur have secured the long-term future of 15 year old academy forward Mikey Moore, signing him to a schoolboy contract that will turn into a full professional contract when he turns 17.
Tottenham talent Mikey Moore has committed long-term future club. Major interest from UK + abroad but 15yo winger signed deal yesterday to move from scholarship to schoolboys forms & then pro contract when turns 17. Significant coup @TheAthleticFC #THFC https://t.co/OO9daxPWeI— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) June 17, 2023
This is a hugely exciting development, not least because for a while it didn’t look like it was going to happen. Moore is the crown jewel of his generation of Spurs academy players and part of what could shape up to be a golden generation of Tottenham youth talent, along with players like Dane Scarlett, Will Lankshear, Jamie Donley, Alfie Dorrington, Callum Olusesi, Herbie James, and Oliver Irow. But Moore, at least right now, quite possibly has the most potential of all of them, and for a while it looked like he was testing the waters at other clubs.
Spurs have lost a number of academy players in recent years who have chosen to wind their contracts down and look elsewhere, either in England or on the continent, to further their development. Romaine Mundle and Samuel Amo-Ameyaw are among the most recent example, but you can also look at Noni Madueke, Dennis Cirkin, Jubril Okedina, Luis Binks, and Reo Griffiths, all players who left Spurs voluntarily after refusing to sign contracts, either for a change of scenery or because they felt they had a better pathway to first team football at a different club.
Moore is a wide attacker deployed frequently on the wing. He was part of the Tottenham teams that won the U17 and U18 Premier League Cups and I expect next season he’ll be bumped up to the U21s. Pretty good for a kid five years younger than most of the players in that division!
There were murmurs that Daniel Levy and the academy staff were pulling out all the stops to get Moore to sign, but one of the primary reasons could be financial. Before his departure, one of the changes that Fabio Paratici made was to break the academy wage structure that existed under former Academy Manager John McDermott. Alasdair Gold had previously reported that McDermott was opposed on principle to paying academy players more because he wanted to “keep them hungry” — Paratici reversed that decision, and it may have been a factor in why Spurs kept Moore and has attracted some top-level youth talent lately.
So this is exciting, and excellent news! But I want to be careful here. Mikey Moore is 15, and like Troy Parrott and Dane Scarlett before him, he now has a fan spotlight aimed directly at him. We’ve seen so many times that youth development is rarely linear. In fact, it’s at times a lot more like rolling dice — excelling at the youth level does not mean you’re guaranteed to become an outstanding professional footballer, and having a relatively unassuming youth career doesn’t always mean you can’t make the leap (just ask Harry Kane). Mikey Moore is an excellent player against other players his own age, but that doesn’t always translate as you move up the age brackets and into professional ball, and he can’t even head out on loan until he turns 17.
So I caution fans to take care about hyping Moore, along with Scarlett, Parrott, Alfie Devine, or any of the exciting young players. I realize the irony of me doing this — we were, after all, the blog who half-ironically hyped Marcus Edwards beyond all reason and declared Tom Carroll to be “basically English Xavi” — but it’s even more important to do so now when there’s so much more access to youth football by fans and as well as a thriving (and toxic) social media apparatus.
Mikey Moore could be a superstar in waiting. He could also turn out to be “merely” a good professional footballer that lands in the lower divisions. We don’t know yet, and won’t for a while! What I can guarantee now is that his performances and future development are going to be scrutinized by a lot of people from now on, likely by people (including myself) who don’t know a lot about developing young footballers. It’s tough living in a fishbowl burdened by expectations that are largely out of your control.
Academy kids are all promise and expectation and it’s fun to hang your hopes and dreams on them as a fan, but this is a collective reminder to keep things in perspective. Let’s have some fun watching him develop, but try not to be too disappointed if he doesn’t turn out to be the “next Harry Kane.” Those are shoes that are way too big for any 15 year old kid to fill, no matter his potential.