My piece on Spurs’ young midfield mercurial talent Paris Maghoma and his excellent start to the 2018/19 season:
For those of you who regularly read my match reports you will all know how highly I rate our 17 year old academy midfielder Paris Maghoma. Paris comes from a real footballing family, and he is the younger brother of our former player and current Birmingham City star Jacques Maghoma, and our former academy played Christian Maghoma who plays for Polish Ekstraklasa side Arka Gdynia. The youngest of the Maghoma brothers has been in sensational form for our development side this season and he seems to have come on leaps and bounds after enjoying a successful pre-season. A skilful and adaptable central midfielder who is comfortable playing in the hole and out on the wing, Maghoma is a silky creative midfielder who loves to take players on, and drive at opposition defences. The Enfield born midfielder who has been at Spurs since a very young age was brought up in Finchley, North London where he attended Finchley Catholic High School. Maghoma has so often played above his age group over the years and during the 2016/17 season the then schoolboy stepped up on five occasions to play for our under 18’s. Directly involved in two goals from those five matches Maghoma was even included in our 19 side which competed in the end of the season Terborg tournament in the Netherlands. The midfielder joined Spurs full time in the summer of 2017 and it was during his first year of scholarship that Maghoma forced himself into the under 18 side. A mainstay in Scott Parker’s side that season, Maghoma put in a series of impressive performances for our under 18’s both in the league and in the domestic cup competitions, making 26 appearances for Parker’s side during the 2017/18 season. Maghoma found the back of the net on three occasions and he set up a further five. As well as helping our under 18’s to reach the final of the Premier League under 18 cup, Maghoma was also a regular for our under 19’s (making six appearances) in the UEFA youth league and he helped them to reach the quarterfinals of that competition. The first year scholar was by far the youngest member of the squad, but still he found himself being trusted to start our big quarterfinal against Porto ahead of older and more experienced players.
While I personally think that Maghoma had a very good 2017/18 campaign I have noticed a significant improvement in his all round game this season. After starring in our under 18’s 6-4 win over Brighton on the opening day of the season less than a week after he made his first team debut in a friendly against Girona, Maghoma was quickly drafted into Wayne Burnett’s development side. That same preseason Maghoma also won the prestigious player of the tournament award, for his performances in the Tournoi Europeen for our development side. The 17 year old made his debut for our under 23’s in a 1-1 draw against Liverpool in the PL2 up in Anfield in August. Since putting in a tenacious performance under testing conditions Maghoma has not only gone onto become a mainstay in Burnett’s side, but he has established himself as one of the under 23’s most important and consistent players. Along with Jack Roles, Maghoma has been our biggest goal threat and the second year scholars versatility has also proved to be useful for Wayne Burnett. Paris has clocked up over 1,630 minutes for Spurs at all levels this season. Further to that he has made 21 appearances for Spurs in all competitions so far this campaign, and from those 21 appearances Maghoma has scored seven goals and he has assisted on four occasions for his teammates. Maghoma has often been the star of the show for our development side, and he has put in several match winning performances already this campaign from both central midfield and in the hole. The North Londoners club form has also earned him a recall to the England international setup. During the last international break Maghoma was called up to the England under 18 side. That was Maghoma’s first England call up since under 16 level, he had also represented them at under 15 level. Despite playing for England at youth level he is also eligible to represent DR Congo and Belgium. Young Paris for those of you who have only seen him in fleeting glimpses is a silky and powerful creative central midfielder, who also regularly plays a number ten and as an inside forward. The skilful Maghoma is most accomplished in the middle of the park and he is a player in the mould of a player such as Paul Pogba or Ross Barkley. He is an expressive midfielder who links defence with attack so well.
Maghoma’s footballing hero is Ronaldinho and the Brazilian icon has clearly influenced the teenagers style of play. Paris is a very skilful midfielder who plays with a lot of flair about him, unlike many midfielders Maghoma is always looking to take on and beat players and drive forward with the ball. He is effective as a box to box midfielder and this season he has also shown that he can play as a midfield destroyer if needs be. He demonstrated this just the other week in our under 18’s FA youth cup third round tie against Millwall at the Den. In that particular game Spurs were unable to play their usual passing game to effect and the game needed somebody who could act as an enforcer in the middle of the park. Maghoma stepped up and he became that dominant midfield force, breaking up play and helping to recycle possession. The 17 year old also showed good leadership skills and he helped to organise the side and keep them motivated during difficult stages in the game. Like academy graduate Josh Onomah, Maghoma takes the game in his stride and he always shows good composure. He also carries the ball well and while he does like to take risks in dangerous positions, he is a player who always remains defensively disciplined and ready to fill in for players who are out of position. Every central midfielder needs to be a good passer of the ball and Maghoma is certainly that, he knows how to pick as pass and generally speaking he is a crisp passer of the ball and he never holds onto it for longer than he needs to. Like Ross Barkley, Maghoma’s awareness is impressive and he reads situations well. Although he is quite tall and slim, he is one of the strongest players in our academy side and he is often able to hold off bigger and more physical opponents. In my eyes he is the complete central midfielder and he is a player who has all the attributes needed to succeed in that role. However, Maghoma plays with an attacking flair which few English central midfielders play with. He is often the player who changes games providing our various youth teams with that all important spark.
What the second year scholar does so well in matches is picking the ball up in the middle of the pitch and driving forward at the oppositions defence. Maghoma’s trademark jinking runs through the middle of the park are always extremely effective. He has that rare ability to create chances from nothing and he attacks with a real intent. I have seen the tricky teenager pick the ball up and go on many slaloming runs through the middle of the park, beating four or five players with his dazzling skill. He is a young man who always gets spectators off of their seats, the way that he just glides past players seems so effortless but it is all done with such skill. As I have said previously he plays in a very Pogba-esque way and as a box to box midfielder he is one of the very best from his age group in the country. One such example of this occurred during our under 18’s opening day win over Brighton in the league. Maghoma was a class above any other player on the pitch that day, and there was a particular moment in the game when he took everybody’s breath away. After picking the ball up some 25 yards out from goal Paris pulled off two exquisite pieces of skill to work his way around two Brighton players, before continuing forwards and firing an unstoppable swerving effort past the helpless Brighton goalkeeper. Paris is an excellent striker of the ball and as he showed quite superbly during our under 19’s 2-2 draw against PSV in the UEFA youth league, that once he connects with the ball sweetly there is no stopping him. One young Englishman who I could compare Paris with is Wolverhampton Wanderers starlet Morgan Gibbs-White. Although he is slightly older than Maghoma the Wolves youngster is similar to Paris in how he operates as a central midfielder. Like the Spurs youngster Gibbs-White is a very confident player who loves to take on and beat players as he goes on promising little attacking forays through the middle of the pitch. Although I personally think that Maghoma is a better player than the Wolves midfielder, you cannot compare them due to the fact that Gibbs-White has played regular first team football over the last year.
My point however, is that both Maghoma and Gibbs-White aren’t your average young English central midfielder. So many young midfielders don’t hold onto the ball and instead they will try to influence the game with their passing. However, Maghoma not only oozes class, he also oozes confidence and he is willing to gamble by looking to create openings in other teams defences. He is brave and committed but he is also a refreshingly well rounded midfielder who can adapt his game to different situations and scenarios. Since the days of Paul Gascoigne England have never really produced the type of midfielder who will travel with the ball from deep. A player who can beat several players with ease before picking a defence splitting pass to set the centre forward through on goal. Maghoma can also do a sterling job as a holding midfielder, a role which he has played in on a number of occasions for our development side this season. Paris is a dead ball specialist and he is often on set piece duties for Wayne Burnett’s side. He is a good crosser of the ball and he also takes some really good dipping free kicks with his side foot. Although I have talked in length about Paris in his natural position I would also like to about Paris the CAM. So often throughout his career Maghoma has played in the hole as a number ten and this season has been no different for the Spurs youngster. Some of Maghoma’s best performances this season have come from him playing in a more advanced role on the pitch. Just a couple of weeks ago he tore apart German club Wolfsburg’s second teams defence to shreds in the premier league international cup. It was one of many examples of Maghoma excelling in that CAM position. Against Wolfsburg II he initiated many chances with some very intelligent play. He tricked his way past players and looked to take on the defenders which meant that Wolfsburg broke up, meaning that Spurs‘ centre forward Kazaiah Sterling was given more space. Maghoma tracked back well after him but he also worked tirelessly to create little pockets of space for himself in and around the danger zone.
Without waxing lyrical about Maghoma, he has put in some very Dele Alli like performances so far this season in the number ten role. A lot of his goals have come from him playing in that position. What reminds of Dele Alli in Maghoma’s game is the way in which he anticipates situations and understands his teammates. Dele Alli and Harry Kane link up very well and they compliment one another throughout matches. Meanwhile Maghoma and young Irish centre forward Troy Parrott have a very similar relationship at youth team level, and the pair have combined really well for our under 19 side this season in Europe. It’s that intelligence and understanding of the game which has impressed me so much this season as a Spurs fan. The 17 year old is unpredictable and he mixes up his play, sometimes opting to go for the spectacular and on other occasions looking to play more simply by playing clever one twos on the edge of the penalty area. Regardless of how good a game Paris has had, one thing which is always consistent is his razor sharp movement. He is just as much a joy to watch off the ball as he is on it, he is so lively on the edge of the box. Furthermore, the timing of Maghoma’s runs in and behind the defence are so well timed and they are very instinctive. Another impressive quality that he shows off the ball is his leadership. Maghoma has shown time and time again that he is a leader of men, and the charismatic midfielder won’t stand for any nonsense on the field. I like a lot of things about Maghoma’s style of play but amongst all the flicks and tricks and the mazy surging runs, what impresses me the most of all is how well rounded a footballer he is for such a young man, and just how adaptable he can be. Paris is a special talent who can do things with a football that many young players could only dream of. We are now at the midway point of the 2018/19 season and for me the teenager has been our development sides best player this campaign, and his statistics will back that up. Paris has been an absolute privilege to watch this season and he is one of the first names that I look for on the team sheet.
There is no doubting that Paris is a special talent after all he is an England under 18 international in an exceptionally talented age group. He is a mercurial talent who also has an excellent work rate. However, he is only 17 and he is an ever developing and ever improving footballer who shows such promise. Paris has been a privilege to watch so far this season and I would love to see him involved with the first team at some point in the season just like Oliver Skipp has been recently. I wish Paris all the very best of luck for the remainder of the 2018/19 season for both Spurs and England. Maghoma will be hoping to be involved in our under 23’s PL2 game against Liverpool on the 7th of January. In the meantime I hope that our young midfield maestro enjoys the rest of the Christmas holiday.