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The Tottenham wonderkid dilemma Ange Postecoglou needs to be careful about next season

Lucas Bergvall is really catching the eye for Djurgarden at present ahead of his move to Tottenham
-Credit: (Image: Michael Campanella/Getty Images)


It is the eternal struggle for football supporters - the thrill of wanting new transfers for their club balanced with the excitement of young stars in the making coming through their own academy.

That balance is also one that managers need to strike with new recruits for the present required while ensuring that the path is not blocked for those talented teenagers coming through the system. Others might suggest that the cream will always rise to the top, but football is littered with those players who became stars elsewhere because the path through was too long at their original clubs.

At Tottenham Hotspur, this summer looks like it's going to present a bottleneck of young talent in one position in particular in Ange Postecoglou's system - the No.8 role.

The Australian is always keen to stress that there should be no delineation between the dual No.8s in his midfield set-up and the No.6 that works behind them. In practice though, the two box-to-box players on either side of the anchor-man do have different roles to him.

In Postecoglou's senior side in his first season, the players who have taken up those No.8 roles each week have been James Maddison, Pape Matar Sarr, Rodrigo Bentancur, Dejan Kulusevski, Giovani Lo Celso as well as occasionally Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp.

Looking forward, Tottenham have been linked with a move for Chelsea's Conor Gallagher this summer with the England international able to play in that box-to-box role, while his international team-mate, Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze, is another player Spurs like and he can play through the middle.

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That's not to mention the £8.5million arrival of February signing Lucas Bergvall next month from Djurgarden with plenty of excitement around the 18-year-old Swede, one of the brightest young prospects in Scandinavia. Spurs saw off competition from Barcelona to sign him and his best position is - yes you guessed it - the No.8 role.

Then there is the youth coming through already at the club. Postecoglou has taken a liking to 18-year-old academy midfielder Tyrese Hall, who has been developing in that position this season and was named on the bench for the Premier League match against Manchester City before impressing in 20 minutes of game time for the first team in the post-season friendly against Newcastle in Melbourne.

The most eye-catching playing in the No.8 role at the club last season was 19-year-old Jamie Donley, who provided goals and assists galore in the position for the Under-21s and earned himself three Premier League appearances and one FA Cup cameo under Postecoglou.

Then there is Alfie Devine. Postecoglou took a shine to the now 19-year-old last summer during the club's summer tour and the teenager went off and got plenty of first team experience with 41 appearances across loan spells in League One and then the Championship with Port Vale and Plymouth.

He will return to Spurs next month looking to reclaim his position as the young No.8 to watch within the club.

There is also 16-year-old prospect Mikey Moore. The teenager has mostly operated as a left winger or a forward but the gifted teenager can also take on the role of a central attacking midfielder and he is still learning and developing with every passing week.

More new faces will be linked with the club over the weeks ahead as Spurs look at attacking midfielders to come through the door and Postecoglou will love the competition for places, especially with more fixtures on the schedule next season with the return of European football. The Australian must also beware though not to overlook what he has got coming through at the club already.

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