In such a small tenure, the appointment of Ange Postecoglou has accelerated Tottenham into a new era of fast-paced, possession-based, attacking football. His system and philosophy is proving to be a joy to watch, and along with his tactical genius and attacking flair, comes a duo of young prodigies; Pape Matar Sarr and Destiny Udogie.
Just two games into the 2023/24 Premiere League season, and the impact of two 20-year-old prodigies has been instrumental to Tottenham’s flourishing display of football.
Under Ange’s guidance, Spurs have implemented possession-orientated, free-flowing tactics that have allowed for bounds of creativity and freedom for players across the board.
As a result, the coach has garnered a positive, likeable admiration from players like Dejan Kulusevski and Yves Bissouma– who have both been quick to publicly praise the new manager (Evening Standard, Sky Sports).
But as the dust begins to settle around a tumultuous string of events at the club, a newfound confidence has been imposed by youngsters Pape Matar Sarr and Destiny Udogie who have taken ‘Ange-ball’ by storm.
Udogie and Sarr have been quick off the mark this season. Sarr scored his first Premier League goal in the home fixture against Manchester United, and Udogie has started both games.
The two twenty-year-olds have provided a breath of fresh air to all Spurs supporters; their hunger for success and confidence on the pitch has been a joy to watch, but where did they come from?
Rewind back to August of 2021. Ryan Mason was four months into his first spell as interim manager at Hotspur Way, but negotiations for world-class talent were well underway.
Enter Fabio Paratici, an ex-Italian pro that had joined the club in June, after an 11-year spell as chief footballing officer.
Quick to settle down, Fabio’s eye for talent and potential had jerked him into motion – Pape Matar Sarr, a Senegalese midfielder, had caught Paratici’s attention, as Sarr had begun to make his presence known at Ligue 1 side, FC Metz.
In his short spell at FC Metz, the Senegalese international had tallied up four goals in 26 games over the 20/21 season, predominantly playing the role of a defensive midfielder (TransferMarkt). On the 27th of August 2021, Sarr signed for Spurs for a modest fee of £14.6 million (SkySports).
As part of the deal, Sarr was loaned back to FC Metz for the 21 -22 season. He made 33 appearances, tallying up four goal contributions (Transfer Markt), but the 22/23 season would be the start of his highly anticipated career at Spurs.
August 2022, Tottenham fans are full of optimism and hope going into the new season. Antonio Conte, now entering his ninth month in charge, has defied odds, securing Champions League football and a fourth-place finish, excitement builds for the new campaign.
Conte and his Italian outfit had worked wonders, and it looked like they were cooking up something special for the coming season, as Fabio Paratici signs a teenage Italian left back known as Destiny Udogie.
Destiny Udogie piqued Fabio’s interest after a sensational Serie A season. The 21/22 season saw Udogie shirt a total of 37 appearances, in which he netted five goals and assisted three (Transfer Markt).
Following his impressive performance over the season, Fabio signed Destiny for a fee of £15 million (SkySports). Similar to the deal with Pape Matar Sarr, Destiny was loaned back to Udinese for the 22/23 season. The left-sided player closed his account with 33 appearances and seven goal contributions (Transfer Markt).
Ange ball and the prodigies Destiny and Pape
Jump to current day, Ange Postecoglou is at the helm. His tactics are proving to be a joy to watch as Sarr and Udogie slot into the starting XI with relative ease.
Under Ange, Udogie finds himself sliding behind the holding midfielder along with Pedro Porro, the other fullback. This system is known as inverted fullbacks. It allows for more space down the flanks of the pitch, whilst it reinforces the central midfield.
In this position, Destiny can receive the ball, and penetrate the opposition, creating a space and a distraction to the opposition as he runs up the pitch. The tactics are high risk yet high reward, as it frees up the other midfielders.
Sarr on the other hand is finding his own responsibility amongst the likes of Yves Bissouma and James Maddison. Alternating between each other, the trio are the powerhouse of ‘Ange ball’.
As we saw in the Man United game, Sarr and Co. will sit on the outside of the box passing the ball into space, then by timing his run to perfection, he can sneak into spaces unnoticed as play evolves around him – when done well, he can deal a deadly blow to the opposition – as the Red Devils found out.
The pair’s unpredictability is certainly working in their favour. Destiny for one made his premiere league debut on the opening weekend, and Sarr, although we saw glimpses of him under Conte, he remains obscure to most oppositions.
As a result, the duo exudes excitement, the sky’s the limit for either one of their abilities, and with such offensive freedom it will be truly intriguing to see where Ange Postecoglou will take them and the rest of the team.
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