In the first week of June Spurs will announce their released and retained players, and there are some decisions to make both with those whose contracts are expiring, and those caught between academy and first team.
In terms of the first team, we have two players whose contracts are expiring: Michel Vorm (35) and Fernando Llorente (34). I think we can safely assume that Vorm will be leaving, but there is a big question mark over Llorente, particularly given his impact in the Champions League. Personally I think if we have the squad space then he should be kept on, but what makes that difficult is that we won’t necessarily know until the end of the transfer window how the squad is shaping up. It would be pretty awful planning if we were to extend his contract and then end up not being able to name him in the 25-man squad, à la Vincent Janssen. But that also assumes that we might buy some players, sooooo…
Then we come onto the Development Squad players, and I think there’s a real point of interest here. In doing some research for this article I found the below tweet that I made in June 2018.
Nick Tsaroulla, after a year without a club, has joined Championship side Brentford this week ahead of next season. Tsaroulla was an excellent left-back in our Under-18s and then Under-23s who suffered an injury away from the pitch and was ultimately released. I was surprised, as Spurs had previously stuck by injured players (Joe Pritchard as an example, but there have been others) and, besides, I thought Tsaroulla was good. I think in hindsight we should have kept hold of Tsaroulla and released the others mentioned in my tweet above.
Those I mentioned will presumably all be released or sold this summer (Jaden Brown already joined Huddersfield in January on a free transfer). I think you could reasonably say that we have wasted a year’s worth (or 6 months’ worth in Brown’s case) of time, wages and potential opportunities for others on Tom Glover, Shayon Harrison, Shilow Tracey and Brown. Harrison and Glover have spent some of the season away on loan — Glover at Helsingborg, making 0 appearances, and Harrison at Melbourne City FC, making 11 appearances. But ultimately we made poor judgement calls and I personally think this is more evidence of mismanagement of the Development Squad players, and I personally believe that more oversight is required of that group.
I would support the introduction of an Academy Progression Manager to oversee everything from Post-Scholarship to first team integration, setting up individual progression plans and arranging loans if deemed necessary. As it stands, too many players are stagnating or regressing. Speaking of which…
A number of the current scholars have been sharing pictures on social media of themselves signing their first professional contracts — a proud moment for them and their families! It seems that pretty much all of the second year scholars have signed professional contracts, the only question marks perhaps being Jeremie Mukendie and Elliot Thorpe, who have not played a lot of football this season for various reasons. This means that the Development Squad will be seeing the introduction of the following players next season:
- Phoenix Patterson
- Rodel Richards
- Maxwell Statham
- Jubril Okedina
- Armando Shashoua
- Brooklyn Lyons-Foster
- Joshua Oluwayemi
- Maurizio Pochettino
- Rayan Clarke
- Paris Maghoma
- Maximus Tainio
- Jamie Bowden
- Dilan Markanday
- Jeremie Mukendie – TBC
- Elliot Thorpe – TBC
It’s worth noting that Oliver Skipp is also in this age group (2000/2001 born) but, of course, he has already become a first team squad member.
So what can we say about this? Well, we’ve offered more (mostly one-year) pro contracts than possibly ever before. It’s a strong group, but some of those offered contracts are arguably at an ability level at which in previous seasons would have seen them released or offered an extension of their scholarship to really prove themselves capable at Under-18 level before progressing or moving on.
This most likely supports what many youth-watchers had already been thinking: that a clear-out of the Under-23s/Development Squad will be happening. The following players are out of contract this summer:
- Connor Ogilvie (23)
- Shayon Harrison (21)
- Tom Glover (21)
- Brandon Austin (20)
- George Marsh (20)
- Dylan Duncan (20)
- Jack Roles (20)
- Japhet Tanganga (20)
- Charlie Freeman (19)
- Jonathan De Bie (18)
I think we can expect most of these players to leave. Sadly, Roles — who has 13 goals and 6 assists in 19 matches this season — has not been offered a contract, and is being courted by multiple clubs from Premier League to League One. Marsh has been included in first team squads, so may get a contract extension on that basis, and hopefully young goalkeepers Austin and De Bie will be kept on too.
Aside from these players, we have decisions to take on:
- Luke Amos (22) – contract expiry: 2021
- Anthony Georgiou (22) – contract expiry: 2020
- Kyle Walker-Peters (22) – contract expiry: 2023
- Joshua Onomah (22) – contract expiry: 2021
- Cameron Carter Vickers (21) – contract expiry: 2021
- Shilow Tracey (21) – contract expiry: 2020
- Alfie Whiteman (20) – contract expiry: 2020
- Kazaiah Sterling (20) – contract expiry: 2021
- Marcus Edwards (20) – contract expiry: 2020
- Sam Shashoua (19) – contract expiry: 2020
- Jonathan Dinzeyi (19) – contract expiry: unknown
- Jamie Reynolds (19) – contract expiry: unknown
- TJ Eyoma (19) – contract expiry: 2021
- Tashan Oakley-Boothe (19) – contract expiry: 2021
- Tariq Hinds (18) – contract expiry: unknown
Some of the decisions may be taken out of the club’s hands. The agents of Sterling, Edwards, Shashoua and Georgiou forced the issue with loans last season, meaning that each now has experience of professional football on their CV and they may look for permanent moves. Conversely, Walker-Peters has staggeringly played nearly as many minutes for the England Under-21s as he has at any level for Spurs since August 2017.
I would think that this is the summer that Onomah and Carter-Vickers move on and if Walker-Peters stays it would surely only be because he’s received assurances of significant game-time next season. Amos has had an injury-disrupted season and may give it another year given the positive impression he made in pre-season last summer.
Of the development squad players, I could foresee Dinzeyi and Reynolds being released (incidentally Reynolds has been injured for a lot of the season but has shown some potential at left-back), whilst I think Hinds will be kept on; he’s a very competent right-back with a degree of potential.
I await our released and retained lists with baited breath and hope that the presumed clear-out marks the beginning of a new strategy for our Development Squad players, hopefully involving more strategic loans, more involvement on the first team bench, and the use of fringe players (like Skipp and Walker-Peters) in alternative competitions (PL2, Checkatrade Trophy, etc).
This is even more vital because of the position we have got ourselves into with the number of homegrown players required to enable us to name a 25-man squad (see this piece from last year for further information). What we don’t want is to have to spend big money on inflated transfer fees for homegrown players who are potentially no better than players we could have developed from within, and I think that’s a genuine risk right now.
To finish, have a listen to our unapologetically jubilant post-Champions League semi-final podcast: