Samuel Shashoua – The young artist:
After his superb performance against West Ham’s development side on the opening weekend of the PL2 season. I thought I’d write a piece on one of Wayne Burnett’s and Tottenham’s most promising youngsters, Samuel Shashoua. The teenager from Chelsea in west London who is the older brother of our under 18 midfielder Armando, is one of my favourite ever Spurs youth players. He remains to this day the most technically gifted Spurs academy player that I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. A tricky right winger who is adept at playing on either flank or through the middle, the 19 year old made the permanent step up to the development side during the 2017/18 campaign. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the former England under 18 international who had been the jewel in the crown of our talented under 18 side the previous season. Shashoua had been scoring and assisting goals for fun during the 2016/17 season, during his second year of scholarship at the club he was unplayable. A pivotal part of the Spurs side which reached the semifinals of the FA youth cup that same season, Samuel was tearing it up in the under 18 league. He was ripping defences apart with his trademark weaving runs, searing pace and excellent balance. By the midpoint of that season under 18 football was essentially a stroll in the park for the 17 year old Spurs starlet. If he wasn’t scoring in one game he was laying off a couple of assists for his teammates in another, he was quite simply unstoppable. I can remember watching one game that season at Hotspur Way, it was a league game against Swansea on an incredibly windy winters afternoon. Shashoua was unplayable during our comprehensive 5-0 victory over the Swans, at times mesmeric. The teenager attacked the Swansea defence with a real ferocity, driving at them with real skill and agility. He was menacing both on and off the ball as he tracked back down the right wing throughout the match and though he was fouled on so many occasions not once did he react.
There were two scouts stood next to me on that day and one of them was waxing lyrical about Samuel the whole game. ” That kids absolutely incredible ” he said as Samuel went onto score two goals against the Welsh side. Hugely admiring of his skill and great balance he was also surprised at how strong Samuel was for such a small and slight player. There was one moment in the game when he cut inside from the right flank before taking on and beating two Swansea defenders with great ease, before smashing the ball against the frame of the goal, it was like watching a young Lionel Messi in full flow. Samuel got into double figures for both goals and assists that season and would end the campaign as our under 18’s second top scorer, whilst going onto make a string of appearances for the under 23’s before the end of that season. His rich vein of form was even rewarded with a place on the bench for our first teams penultimate premier league game of the season away to Leicester City. Although he never came on, it what was an incredible experience for the 17 year old to endure. It was a move from Pochettino which clearly showed how highly him and his coaching staff rated the skilful playmaker. However, the following season wasn’t as fruitful for the teenager who made the permanent step up to the development squad. It was an injury disrupted campaign for Shashoua who featured on 19 occasions for Burnett’s side. Unable to force his way into the side until the end of September, Shashoua picked up an injury just as he was getting into a good patch of form in the autumn time. This was one of a series of frustrating injury lay offs which halted Shashoua’s progress that season.
An artist in the mould of somebody such as Christian Eriksen or David Silva, Shashoua is a typical playmaker. Somebody who can initiate chances out of nothing, he is sharp and unpredictable. With his many twists and turns and well worked manoeuvres, the midfield craftsman enjoyed his best vein of form on the European stage, for our under 19’s last season. Directly involved in five of our goals in the UEFA youth league, Shashoua played a big part in Spurs reaching the quarter finals of the competition. And young Samuel was able to end the campaign on a positive note as he won the player of the tournament in the post season Volksbank cup in Stemwede, Germany. He even got to have his photograph taken with the tournament mascot, a giant mouse! As he received the prestigious award. After a good pre-season away with the development squad I have a really good feeling about this campaign for Samuel. He put in an excellent performance in our opening league game of the season against West Ham where he played as a central attacking midfielder. His sharp twists and turns, and strength whilst traveling with the ball at his feet caused great problems for the West Ham defence. His superb goal inside the opening 15 minutes drew gasps from the crowd, as the young playmaker continued to be Spurs’ most dangerous player throughout that half. With his tricky runs and incisive moves through the middle and his great vision for a pass, he was the shining light in what was a very flat Tottenham performance. However, he was forced off early on in the second half after picking up a knock which resulted in him missing our game against Liverpool later on in the week. With a bit of luck he can avoid those injuries this season and get a good run of games for the development side, something which will undoubtedly boost his confidence and strengthen his chances of being promoted to the first team. As stated earlier on in my article, Samuel is the most technically gifted youth player that I’ve ever seen at Spurs.
Many will be surprised that I haven’t said Marcus Edwards, and whilst both players are immensely talented and in someways very similar types of players, Samuel has always been the one who I’ve felt has the highest ceiling. With excellent close ball control, balance and pace over short distance. Shashoua is an exciting playmaker, I’ve long nicknamed him our very own David Silva due to his creativity. But the former England youth international who has represented the three lions up to under 18 level, is in my eyes the complete cam. He is incredibly skilful and quick, he is strong on the ball and has that rare ability of being able to ride challenges so very well. He has a real footballing brain and is such an unselfish team player who works incredibly hard for the team, tracking back and covering for other players who are out of position. And whilst he is a good finisher who scores an impressive number of goals, Shashoua is a real creative force as he has demonstrated so effectively at u18 and u23 level. He reads the game exceptionally well and has the vision and the intelligence needed to pick out forwards with deceptive Lamela-esque through balls. All of those qualities combined make him an extremely useful player for Pochettino. Apart from the superb Christian Eriksen we don’t really have that type of creative player who can open up a defence with a single pass or a clever jinking run. I’m not suggesting that Samuel is ready to make the step up to the first team at this moment in time however, if somebody like the talented Phil Foden can get significant game time off the bench for Man City, then so should Samuel. For anybody who saw him play during that 2016/17 season you’ll all know what I’m talking about. As with a lot of young players who play in a similar position to Samuel the fear amongst fans is that they won’t have the physicality to deal with men’s football due to being so small and slight.
Yet Shashoua’s small stature is deceptive and believe it or not he is actually one of the strongest players in the development side (on the ball). The 19 year old is a player who possesses great technique and skill. Like Edwards he has that flair about his game, that unpredictable almost Messi like ability to embarrass a defender with a single turn/trick. His high pressing and tracking back after him is a quality that Pochettino will greatly admire, and in so many ways he strikes me as the perfect Pochettino player. He has a long road ahead of him but if he can get a good run of games for Burnett’s side this season and make a positive contribution to the team then it will really help his development, and possibly even result in him making the bench for the first team in a domestic cup game. Last season there were strong rumours around January time linking Samuel with a loan move to Brad Friedel’s New England Revolution. And back in May a rumour from Turkey suggested that Turkish giants Fenerbache were looking to sign the 19 year old. A certain Damien Commoli is the footballing director at the Turkish club. Samuel is also eligible to represent a selection of national teams such as America, Spain and Venezuela. The teenager even has a forum dedicated to him on an American footballing site by fans who would no doubt love to see him in the red, white and blue of the United States National team. An exciting season is in the offing for the older of the two Shashoua brothers and I for one am really looking forward to seeing him get a lot of game time for the development side. His quality is as good as that of any young English player and with a with a bit of luck and a good run of form for the under 23’s this season, it could well be a breakthrough season for the young artist. I wish Samuel all the very best of luck for the remainder of the season. He is such a special talent who we are all so lucky to have at Spurs.