Shilow Tracey joins Tottenham from Ebbsfleet - we profile the teenager
Youngster will join Spurs Academy
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 14/01/16 2:03pm
Twelve months ago, Tottenham landed Dele Alli from League One. Could they have uncovered another lower-league gem?
Tottenham's first signing of the January transfer window is not a big-money striker and is unlikely to be part of the first-team squad, but Shilow Tracey arrives at the club full of promise having made a huge impression on those he has worked with at Ebbsfleet.
Spurs beat off competition from a number of clubs to sign the 17-year-old and he will initially link up with the academy teams, having started the U18's 4-2 defeat to Chelsea at the weekend and watched the FA Youth Cup defeat to Middlesbrough from the stands last week.
Hopes are high that he can eventually make a first-team mark, but what type of player is he, how has he come to prominence and what can Tottenham fans expect?
Tottenham have been quick to give their own youngsters a chance to impress, particularly under Mauricio Pochettino, while the club's academy and scouting staff have also kept a close check on the brightest prospects from the lower leagues.
Tracey has made just one substitute appearance for the senior Ebbsfleet team but his starring role for the club's youth team in their unprecedented run through five rounds to reach the second-round proper of the FA Youth Cup attracted plenty of attention.
Tottenham moved to offer Tracey a trial in October and the teenager impressed enough to be invited to join the club's academy team in the IMG Cup, taking place in Florida in December
Tracey took his chance, scoring in victories over Jacksonville Armada and Baltimore Celtic, as the Spurs youngsters reached the final, only to lose to Maccabi Haifa on penalties.
Following his permanent transfer to Tottenham, Tracey will now jet off with the U18s to take part in the Copa Chivas in Mexico, which will feature the best youngsters from Benfica and Boca Juniors, as well as Spurs' group-stage opponents Club Atlas, FC Pachuca, River Plate and Universidad de Chile.
Style of play
"He can be anything he wants to be." That was one description from the youth team coaching staff at Ebbsfleet when asked to describe how Tracey plays.
Quick and strong, his performances for the Ebbsfleet youth team have drawn similarities with Yaya Toure in the way he can carry the ball at pace - but it is his attacking qualities in particular that have brought him to the attention of Tottenham.
Spurs have played him in a wide role in his early games and he is primarily an attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, so it will be interesting to see if he moves in-field as he becomes more settled.
Comfortable on the ball and technically sound, for now he will be given licence to play further up the pitch and let his attacking instincts blossom.
Josh Onomah is the latest Academy graduate to follow in the footsteps of Harry Kane and Tom Carroll, while Kyle Walker, Danny Rose and Eric Dier are all first-team regulars having moved to north London from their first clubs.
Dele Alli's first-team impact was minimal when he first joined the club, having been loaned back to MK Dons, but the midfielder has since gone from strength-to-strength and is one of Spurs' star performers this season.
Tracey may not make his mark immediately but in an environment that ensures he will be given every opportunity to improve under a manager who gives young players their chance, the teenager will certainly be worth keeping an eye on in the coming months.