It is not easy for a young player to leave a club and search for regular football in an unknown league. Although it presents a great opportunity to learn and evolve as a player, the move is fraught with risks.
So, when young Tottenham Hotspur defender Anton Walkes left the club during the January transfer window to join the new American Major League Soccer franchise Atlanta United on loan, there were more tones questioning the move.
However, the youngster has since gone on to gain some vital minutes on the pitch to receive regular first team opportunities. As revealed to ESPN, the youngster is enjoying every minute of his time at Atlanta United.
For footballing reasons, the move was an easy decision for Walkes. He played only 10 minutes of first team action for Spurs and felt that he was not developing from his Under-23 days with the club.
When Atlanta came knocking the doors, Walkes had no second thoughts about crossing the seas and signing for a club that is now coached by former Barcelona boss Tata Martino.
The youngster feels that it was one of the best decisions he has ever made in his career so far.
“I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made so far,” Walkes, whose initial loan deal has been extended for the remainder of the year, told PA Sport (as quoted by ESPN).
“I’ve enjoyed every single moment, I’ve learned so much, so I am looking forward to the next stages. My expectations were high and what it has proved is just that it’s raised the bar even higher than I expected.”
MLS welcomed two new sides to the roster this year and Atlanta have outshone fellow new boys Minnesota United. The swashbuckling style of football and the remarkable fan base of the club is helping them outshine their rivals.
The 20-year-old started for his new club in the historic opening match at the new $1.6billion state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium against FC Dallas. This is a great leap for the youngster who, one year ago, was lining up against Chelsea Under-23s, and celebrating a 3-0 win.
Tottenham have close ties with Atlanta, with the former director of football administration at Spurs Darren Eales currently serving as the president there.
Eales’ relationship with Pochettino was vital in coaxing Walkes to join a young side that is quickly scaling up the charts. With Atlanta going for promising potential players rather than big names, the chances for someone like Walkes to impress are enormous.
Hopefully, the Tottenham youngster will continue to hog the limelight.