With Marcus Edwards carving out some impressive form in the Netherlands, Ben Fieldhouse has seen enough to suggest that 'little Messi' has a role to play at Tottenham
Adel Taarabt, Ravel Morrison and Hatem Ben Arfa. All players who had the ability and raw footballing skill to go on to be world beaters but faded away and into the “wasted talent” bracket due to “poor attitudes”.
On the 21st September 2016, a 17 year old Marcus Edwards was handed his first ever senior professional appearance and jinking runs and a stinging of the Gillingham goalkeeper’s palms was enough to make spurs fans sit up and take note of the little number 48 on the wing. After the match, Mauricio Pochettino, well known for being excellent in his youth development likened the youngster to Lionel Messi because of the way Edwards would take lots of touches when dribbling, a comparison he later revealed in his book, A Brave New World, he regretted.
Time moved on and Edwards had found his game time at Tottenham had gone no further and Pochettino was already starting to show signs that he was back-tracking on the comparison to Messi and it had gotten out that the attitude of the youngster was the thing hampering him the most, this is where the players that I mentioned at the start of this article become relevant, because these players were all in the same position as Marcus Edwards and had gone on to achieve relatively little despite their obvious talent.
In January 2018, Edwards was sent out to Championship side Norwich city with Spurs allegedly paying the entirety of the players wages during the loan but the loan was terminated in April 2018 with only one substitute appearance for the canaries with attitude issues again hindering his progress.
At this point, you would be forgiven for already dumping him as another Taarabt, Morrison and Ben Arfa. But there is positive news. Edwards is currently on loan at a dutch side called Excelsior where after a slow start he has really found his groove.
Sceptics will tell you that the standard of the Dutch league is so far beneath the Premier League that the preformances are no real barometer for Edwards’ ability to perform at the level we need him to. However there has been numerous talents, especially at Tottenham, that have come straight from the Eredevise: Vertonghen, Sanchez and Eriksen for example. Elsewhere, Van Nistlerooy, one of the greatest strikers in the Premier League era, came directly from PSV to Man United.
Edwards performances are more than flash in the pan tricks and flicks. This season he registered the most take ons in the Eredivisie and has been fouled a total of 51 times. It is also notable that the Excelsior players do seem to, at times turn to him for him to produce something and he that’s what he is doing, just this weekend he helped inspire a comeback with a goal and assist within three minutes of each other.
On top of this, another criticism of Pochettino was his lack of work rate but the youngster seems to be getting better and better at protecting his fullback from his wing position in the 4-3-3 formation Excelsior play, which suits Marcus. This sense of responsibility in needing to make something happen and clear improvement in work rate are both signs that Edwards is staring to take criticism on board, work harder, improve himself and ultimately improve his attitude.
So what can we take from all of this? Well firstly Marcus Edwards has not chucked his toys out the pram fully yet and due to his young age there is still more than enough time for him to resurrect his Tottenham career especially with one of the best managers of youth in football at the helm at Tottenham. Not long ago it seemed as if Edwards was destined for the huge list of players with wasted potential, he has shown he still has more than enough to make the grade.
There is clear talent in Marcus Edwards and also signs that slowly, he is working out Pochettino’s criticisms out of his game and bettering his attitude.
Here’s to seeing him in a Spurs shirt next season.