Opinion: Jamie Donley – A Tottenham star in the making 

Jamie Donley has been with Spurs since he was just eight years old. From then on, he has thrived at every level on the rise to where he is now. Currently, Donley leads the line for Spurs U21s, and he is taking the Premier League 2 (PL2) by storm. 

After joining Spurs, Donley has impressed in every age group squad, and in November 2020, he was given the chance to make his U18 debut. From then on, there was no looking back for Donley. Although he made his debut in the 2020/21 season, this was not his breakout year.

The season after making his debut, Donley became a regular starter, and he made sure his place in the squad was secure.

He went on to have a stellar season and ended up in the top five goalscorers in the league with 18 goals to boot. Not only did he bring goals to the table, but he was an excellent provider and picked up six assists in the league (Transfermarkt). 

LEYLAND, ENGLAND – APRIL 15: Jamie Donley of Tottenham Hotspur smiles as they warm up prior to the Premier League 2 match between Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur at Leyland County Ground on April 15, 2023 in Leyland, England. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

You would expect him to keep his rich vein of form in the next season; however, it was somewhat disrupted. Donley had to share his time between the U18s and the U21s due to injuries. The lack of depth in the U21 squad meant he had to start for them when he should have been starting for the U18s.

This constant switching between the two squads brought irregularity for him, in the U18s, he was superb, picking up nine goal contributions in six games (Transfermarkt). However, his return in the U21s was not as impressive, with just five G/A in 21 games. 

The academy set-up was becoming distorted, and under Antonio Conte, there was also a lack of cohesion between the U21s and the starting XI, with very few academy players in the cup squads.

Not only this, Alfie Devine spent the whole season travelling with the first team, yet he only played one minute in the whole season. This is just one example of the poor relationship between the academy and Conte’s squads.

The disappointment for the academy didn’t stop there. The U21s faced the risk of relegation going into the last game of the season. Although the U21s won their match, results elsewhere meant they were relegated. This, however, was not the case, as a rule change in the PL2 meant they would not face relegation and instead would be part of a newly formatted league.

Jamie Donley is a gem of the Tottenham academy

Not many expected much of Spurs in the PL2 this year after last season. This didn’t dishearten the young stars, and they started the season off with four consecutive wins, including a 5-0 win over reigning champions Manchester City.

At the forefront of this spectacular form is Donley. He has led the attack for Spurs and has created a superb partnership with Yago Santiago and Jude Soonsup-Bell. These three have been so influential in Spurs’ form and output in the opening games. Although Donley sits in front of Santiago and Soonsup-Bell.

In the opening game against Man City Donley was flawless, and he picked up two assists. One of which came from his relentless pressure and pressing, something that has become a regular in his game.

He carried this momentum into the next game, against Newcastle. In this game, Donley was once again a magician. After being played down the line, he put in a perfect low-swinging cross to Soonsup-Bell, who tapped it past the keeper. A move that was orchestrated by Donley’s playmaking ability.

Donley didn’t show any signs of slowing down, and in the next week, he would once again be as influential as ever against Derby. After a ball trickled away in the distance, Donley tracked it down and dove into a tackle, winning the ball and starting the Spurs attack.

He then re-positioned himself and received the ball without looking at the goal. Donley powered a ball into the box, which landed perfectly for Soonsup-Bell, who didn’t even have to change his run. This was an outrageous pass that most Premier League stickers wouldn’t dare to try.

Half an hour later, Donley would once again demonstrate his immense passing ability. After a ball rolled away from the goal area, Donely chased it and turned to put it back towards the back post.

He did this without looking at the area, and yet it still found Soonsup-Bell perfectly at the back post. Donley was ominous against Derby and proved he is truly a multi-faceted striker who can be a dynamo or a devastating poacher.

STEVENAGE, ENGLAND – APRIL 03: Jamie Donley of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League 2 match between Tottenham Hotspur U21 v Manchester City U21 at The Lamex Stadium on April 03, 2023 in Stevenage, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

In Spurs’ most recent fixture against Sunderland in the cup, Nile John was tripped in the box just 20 minutes in. The referee had no choice but to point to the penalty spot and up-step Donley.

With total composure, he fired it into the bottom right corner, giving Spurs the lead. Spurs went on to win the game in the dying seconds after a stunning Harvey White freekick.

Donley has thrived so far this season and will no doubt continue to dominate the league with the rest of the highly talented Spurs U21 side. Hopefully, we will see Donley make his 1XI debut this season; however, now that Spurs are out of the Carabao Cup, this narrows the fixtures he could do this in.

It’s most likely he will have to wait until the FA Cup fixtures or if there is an injury to one of the Spurs frontline players.

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