Dane Scarlett: Loved by Jose Mourinho, compared to Harry Kane - now set for chance under Nuno Espirito Santo

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 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

Jose Mourinho was so enamoured by Dane Scarlett, who will make his first Tottenham start in Thursday’s Europa Conference League play-off first leg, he is expecting to bask in reflected glory from the young striker in future.

“[His debut] means a lot to me because I wanted to be the one to put him on in a Premier League match,” Mourinho said after introducing Scarlett as late substitute in the win over West Brom last season.

“Because I know that he will be somebody in a few years.”

Writing in a national newspaper after this summer’s European Championship, Mourinho also named “phenomenal” Scarlett alongside Jude Bellingham as a future star of the English national team.

Nuno Espirito Santo was complimentary about Scarlett in his own more understated way on Wednesday, explaining that Spurs have high hopes for the 17-year-old, who earned his first professional contract in March and will lead the line against Pacos de Ferreira in Portugal.

“We have big, big expectations regarding Dane because he did so well in pre-season – the game against Leyton Orient in which he scored and many of the [other] games in pre-season,” Nuno said.

“He’s a young talent that we want to develop and we want to make him better and want to make him grow because there’s a lot of potential there.

“It should be our idea in the club to use opportunities for young players to play. When we have talent we must believe in them and go for it.”

Scarlett has rocketed through the ranks at Spurs on the back of ruthless finishing at youth level, and the goal against Orient was an unerring, first-time strike with his unfavored left foot – Tottenham’s first under Nuno.

He is remarkably comfortable with either foot for such a young player, and is also a threat in the air and a skilful dribbler, all of which has made him difficult to stop in youth games.

The teenager trained with the first-team squad for periods of last season and his maturity and attitude has also set him apart from his peers. He is described as “ultra-focussed”, with one Spurs academy coach remarking that “his mindset is his biggest strength of all”.

Despite pressure from the academy staff to tone down his public praise, Mourinho was happy to talk-up Scarlett at every opportunity – also describing him as a “diamond” with “incredible potential” – which was notable in itself, given the Portuguese’s reluctance to do same about Troy Parrott, Spurs’ other exciting teenage forward, who is currently on loan at MK Dons.

As Tottenham’s season continues to be dominated by Harry Kane’s situation, comparisons at the club have inevitably been drawn between the England captain and Scarlett – not least because the teenager has visibly adopted aspects of Kane’s game, including his stuttering run up for penalties.

Like Kane, Scarlett has been with Spurs from the start and reminds staff of the 28-year-old, particularly in his single-minded determination to improve. He spends extra hours working on shooting after training and has told coaches he wants to develop into a “pure finisher”.

The Hillingdon-born youngster idolises Kane and Gareth Bale, and last season a photo emerged on social media of Scarlett aged seven or eight, in Spurs kit, posing with Bale during the Welshman’s first spell at the club.

He would play alongside Bale in Spurs’ 4-0 win over Wolfsberger last season, in which Scarlett bagged an assist with a smart piece of pressing, and was on the pitch with Kane for seconds against the Baggies.

There is now a question over whether he will get the chance play with Kane again but for now he is training with his idol, with Nuno having made Scarlett a fixture in the first-team squad, just as Mourinho was planning to do.

In Kane’s absence, he was unused substitute in Sunday’s win over Manchester City and whether Kane stays or goes this summer, Spurs hope they have already found his long-term successor and unearthed another rare gem.

Scarlett will lead a youthful Spurs side on Thursday, with none of the starting XI against City set to be involved.

New signings Cristian Romero, Pierluigi Gollini and Bryan Gil are all in line for a full debut at the 9,000-capacity Estádio da Mata Real, while Ryan Sessgegnon could also feature.

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