Opinion: Is Pochettino overrated as a youth-talent developer?

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

The book has now closed on Georges-Kevin Nkoudou’s time as a Spurs player. The Frenchman was sold to Turkish club Beşiktaş after a Tottenham career that never quite got going. Nkoudou made eleven appearances for Spurs over three years and the only moment of note was his assist against Fulham last season (Wikipedia).

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has a reputation as one of the worlds best youth developers. However, Nkoudou is the latest in a list of youth flops during his tenure as manager.

In fact, it could be argued that the last youth player to really come in and establish himself amongst the first-team squad was Dele Alli back in 2015. Davinson Sanchez cost the club £42 million and was already playing at the top level when he was bought so doesn’t really count as a youth signing, despite his age (BBC).

The highest-profile flop of Pochettino’s tenure has probably been Vincent Janssen. Bought for £17 million to address the lack of quality depth up front (BBC). Janssen failed to impress and ended up frozen out of the first team for the 2017/18 campaign after scoring only one goal from open play. Janssen was sold to Mexican club Monterrey this summer for just £8m (Sky Sports).

Clinton N’Jie was another transfer flop for Spurs under Pochettino. Like Janssen, N’jie was signed to bolster the first-team’s attack in 2015 but struggled with injuries and was sold to Marseille in 2017 after a disappointing Spurs career.

While Pochettino is impressive at bringing young players through, perhaps he is a little overrated and people do not mention his failures in this respect as much as the successes.

However, while there have been flops during his tenure, Pochettino has developed several of the teams top talents. Dele Alli emerged as one of the worlds brightest attacking prospects under Poch and Harry Kane has become world-class under the Argentine manager.

Because of this Pochettino is allowed the occasional flop like Janssen and Nkoudou. Spurs fans will just have to hope that the exciting young signings like Lo Celso, Sessegnon, Ndombele and Clarke turn out like Kane and Alli!

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  1. Sadly, Pochettino is vastly overrated and has now been seen for what he really is.
    He has favourites and it shows.
    He will not win anything as manager of Spurs because he attitude is wrong. Sits on the bench crossed legged. Top managers show enthusiasm

  2. Pochettino deserves little or no credit for either Kane or Alli! Kane was given a first team run by Sherwood, and was scoring impressively until Pochettino arrived, dropped Kane in place of Soldado, and didn’t give him a PL start until well into the 2014/15 season, when it was clear even to him that Soldado wasn’t up to it. As for Alli, Pleat did the scouting and convinced Levy to splash the cash, and he got his start incredibly quickly at Spurs, not because Pochettino magically transformed him in a few weeks, but because he was so bloody good already! Just a shame that four years under our magic manager have turned him from boy wonder into ‘too much too soon’ personified – he’s almost as big-headed as Pochettino!


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