By Sam MaGuire
Under the expert eye of Mauricio Pochettino Tottenham Hotspur has developed several of the most exciting players in the Premier League in recent seasons.
The likes of Harry Kane and Harry Winks came through the club’s academy and have gone on to play for England. Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies, meanwhile, have all honed their craft with help from the Argentine tactician.
The next player who looks set to follow in the paths of Kane and Winks is Oliver Skipp. The 17-year-old midfielder starred for Tottenham Hotspur during its run to the UEFA Youth League quarter-finals and the International Champions Cup is the perfect platform for him to shine.
Who is Oliver Skipp?
The defensive midfielder has progressed through the ranks at Tottenham Hotspur and made his debut for the under-18 side during the 2016/17 campaign.
He played primarily in front of the defence but occasionally was deployed as a center-midfielder as well as a center-back. The youngster played 18 games at that level and even appeared as a substitute for the Under-23s in February 2017.
At the start of the 2017/18 season, aged just 16, Skipp was one of the youngsters included in the squad for the Checkatrade Trophy, a competition in which Premier League under-23 teams face professional Football League clubs.
He started against League Two side Luton Town and the match ended in a 4-2 penalty shoot-out loss after a 2-2 draw. However, despite the defeat, the then 16-year-old effectively patrolled the midfield against players almost twice his age.
Though defensive midfielders are often viewed as destroyers, Skipp merges that alongside being a playmaker. He’s confident on the ball, has the vision to pull the strings from deep, and his spatial awareness means he’s able to put a stop to attacks before they even begin.
There’s a maturity to his game, too. Turning out for the Under-23s, he’s used to battling it out with players who are four, five and even six years his senior, yet he never looks out of his depth.
It’s Skipp’s composure in possession which makes him stand-out from his peers, however. It’s one of the reasons he looks set to be fast tracked into Pochettino’s long-term plans and why he could shine at the International Champions Cup, a summer tournament famed for young players being given their big break.
What’s been said about Skipp?
Tottenham Hotspur academy boss John McDermott has been quick to praise the talented teen, who has been likened to first-team midfielder Eric Dier, and said after a match last season: “Oliver Skipp showed guile and quality in possession but also a real desire and toughness out of possession.”
Tottenham have three high-profile games at this summer’s International Champions Cup, taking on Barcelona, Roma and Milan. For more information, match dates and tickets click here.