A number of players have been likened to Lionel Messi and Tottenham star Marcus Edwards is certainly not the first. However, he is helped by the fact that the presence of Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino provides a great platform for him to develop. The former Southampton boss never shies away from giving young players an opportunity in the first team. However, he will not have an opportunity to pick Edwards for a few months, as the player appears to have suffered an injury that will keep him out of action until December.
Pochettino was recently complaining about tiredness as a factor in the club’s dropped points against West Brom and Bournemouth. The midweek rest could come as a welcome point for some of the club’s overused stars, while also presenting a viable platform for the youngsters to impress the manager.
Edwards would have been one of the first names on the team sheet given his talent, but the player has been ruled out until December in a major blow for the club. Twisting his ankle during training means that the 17-year-old is unlikely to be back in the next six or seven weeks. The beginning of the Christmas fixture schedule also puts a lot of pressure on the manager and the players; young names are usually not involved in the team sheet during this period and any first-team opportunities for Edwards may come in the FA Cup action at the start of next year. Speaking ahead of the game, Pochettino said:
“He’s [Edwards] injured, he got an injury the day before in Leverkusen and he twisted his ankle. He’s recovering from his injury and is not available for six or seven weeks now.”
The England U19 player has largely been likened with Messi since he is a left footed attacking midfielder just like the famous Argentine. He made his debut for the club in the 5-0 win over Gillingham in the EFL Cup earlier in the campaign. Pochettino claims that a number of clubs would be after the signature of the player had he been playing in South America or lesser known leagues. Always a hard negotiator when it comes to transfers, chairman Daniel Levy is unlikely to even contemplate selling the player at this stage.
“It is cultural,” Pochettino explained. “Maybe if Marcus Edwards were born in Brazil or Argentina, today he would be one of the most interesting prospects in football in the world. Maybe all the big teams would be fighting to buy him.
“But he is at Tottenham, he is in England and, at 17, he is still a kid. We cannot appreciate he is a man, nearly a man, and he deserves to play.
“The qualities – it’s only looks, his body and the way that he plays – remind me a little bit of the beginning of Messi,” Pochettino said. (Daily Mirror quoted Edwards as “Mini Messi”)
Pochettino admits that clubs often find the easy route of achieving success – signing players at the peak of their careers rather than developing young names. Spurs have developed a tradition for being a haven for talented youngsters, as they know that they will get the opportunities in the first team if they prove their quality. Edwards is likely to make a Premier League appearance if he continues his development in the same manner.