Opinion: Analysing the possible next step for Alfie Devine at Spurs

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Not only is Dane Scarlett grabbing the headlines of late, but his under-18 teammate Alfie Devine has also impressed in his few cameos for the senior team this season.

 

Devine, 16, joined Spurs in the summer after Wigan Athletic went into administration, signing for a fee of around £500,000 (Standard).

 

Since signing for the club, Devine has regularly featured in the Spurs youth teams, especially for the under-18s, in which he has notched two goals and one assist in nine games. He was later promoted to the under-21s, featuring in seven games to date and scoring once (Transfermarkt).

 

The 16-year-old certainly made a name for himself in the Spurs under-21 side after the midfielder produced a physical tackle on Chelsea’s Danny Drinkwater in a Premier League 2 fixture, which saw both players receive their marching orders.

 

Jose Mourinho handed the teenager his senior debut for Spurs in FA Cup third round against Marine AFC after his rapid rise through the academy. He came on as a substitute and notched Spurs fifth goal of the evening, becoming the youngest player to have played and scored for Spurs in a senior game (Daily Mail).

 

The 16-year-old has also made an appearance on the bench in the Premier League for Mourinho’s side but has still yet to make his debut.

 

Saying that his rapid rise from under-18 to under-21 whilst being just 16 years old has filled supporters with heaps of confidence and wouldn’t be surprised to see Devine breaking into the side in the next year or two.

 

But what steps should Spurs’ and Devine take to continue their development?

 

More time with the under-21s

 

At the age of 16, it seems ludicrous to even be thinking about Devine being promoted to the senior squad for next season, but he has shown glimpses of raw talent that could develop him into a superstar.

 

To be fair, the teenager has featured quite a few times for the Spurs under-21s, despite being four years younger than most players, impressing on every single occasion.

 

Devine has shown maturity and physicality to deal with older players in the Premier League 2. While many would argue that more time in under-21s would stall his career, another season in the reserve squad, while being involved with the seniors now and again, could really prepare Devine for the step up.

 

A loan move

 

However, if the 16-year-old wants to earn regular first-team minutes in senior football next season, the perfect solution would be a loan move.

 

Playing first-team football week in, week out would be the best way to continue Devine’s excellent development, especially against experienced and physical players.

 

A temporary move away from Spurs will only make Devine physically and mentally stronger, adding a wealth of experience ahead of his 18th birthday.

 

One prime example of players flourishing on loan is Oliver Skipp. The 20-year-old barely featured for Spurs last season and his development was clearly stalling, but since joining Norwich City on a season-long loan in the summer, he has featured 35 times and played over 2,800 minutes of senior football (Transfermarkt).

 

Bear in mind, Devine needs a good loan move to a League One/Two side against professionals of a similar calibre, not to a non-league side.

 

Remain in and around the first team

 

Devine could follow in the footsteps of his teammate Dane Scarlett after Mourinho confirmed that the teenage striker will be involved in the first team next season.

 

Unlike Scarlett, however, Devine has failed to feature for the senior team since making an impressive cameo against Marine in early January, so would it be really worth keeping him among the first-team group without featuring in matches?

 

Plus, the teenager would have to battle through Tanguy Ndombele, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Dele Alli and now Oliver Skipp next season before having any chance of making an appearance in the Premier League.

 

He would arguably get chances in cup competitions, but not enough to continue his rapid development.

 

Looking through all his options for next season, it seems the best direction would be a season-long loan move to a lower League One/high League Two side in order to play regular minutes.

 

Devine is still only 16 years old and doesn’t need to rush into any decision. Although, he could bag heaps of experience before reaching 18, putting him in a unique position to break into the Spurs squad sooner rather than later.  

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