My piece on one of our under 18’s most consistent performers Dilan Markanday:
In the final of three pieces on some of our youth teams most inform players, at the halfway point of the 2018/19 campaign, I thought I’d write a little piece on 17 year old winger Dilan Kumar Markanday, a player who has been in excellent form for Matt Wells under 18 side so far this season. Markanday is an exciting winger who is adept at playing on either flank, as well as in the hole as a number ten. The second year scholar has been a key player for Matt Wells high flying under 18 side so far his season. The teenager from Barnet in North London attended Haberdashers‘ Aske’s Boys School, and like so many of our under 18 squad Markanday has been at Spurs since a very young age. Dilan scored seven goals for our under 16’s during the 2016/17 campaign before signing scholarship terms with Spurs in the summer of 2017. Markanday made his debut for our under 18 side in their opening day victory over Norwich City at the beginning of the 2017/18 season, Dilan scored his first goal at under 18 level in that 4-0 win. And it was during his first year of scholarship at Spurs that the tricky winger became a mainstay in the under 18 side. The North Londoner was consistent for Scott Parker’s side that season, and he chipped in with nine goals and four assists from 22 appearances for our under 18’s. Markanday also made his debut for our development side in a final day defeat to Manchester City in the PL2. In addition to his domestic success Markanday impressed in a whole host of international tournaments for Spurs that season. The jinking winger impressed greatly at the ALKAAS tournament in Qatar in the January of 2018, and he also impressed at the Borgaro Maggioni Righi tournament in Italy, where he was awarded with the best overseas player of the tournament award. Markanday was also an important member of the under 18 side which reached the final of the Premier League Cup. Personally I thought that Dilan was excellent for the entirety of the 2017/18 season however, I think that he has upped his game this season and his statistics so far this campaign prove that.
After impressing in pre-season for our development side in the Tournoi Europeen out in France, the youngest of our second year scholars has been a regular starter for Matt Wells under 18 side once again this campaign. Furthermore, Markanday has also appeared in all but one of our under 19’s UEFA youth league matches this season. Dilan has scored seven goals and assisted on three occasions from the 20 games that he has been involved in, in all competitions for our youth sides during 2018/19. Markanday is a direct right winger much like his teammate on the opposite flank Rayan Clarke. However, Dilan is a player who possesses great skill and like players such as Marcus Edwards and Samuel Shashoua before him, he is a naturally talented winger who loves to go on weaving runs down the flank. Markanday is one of the most skilful players who I have ever seen at under 18 level. Although he isn’t particularly quick over a long distance, his balance and ability to weave his way around defenders is one of his greatest attributes. In our under 18’s 7-0 victory over Norwich City earlier on in the season Dilan demonstrated this to perfection. Markanday was simply unplayable in that particular game out on the right flank. I remember comparing the youngsters performance to that of a young George Best, such was the quality of his mazy runs. Markanday created more chances than any other player on the pitch that day and even though I had seen his dazzling skills so many times before, there was something quite special about his performance against Norwich. He was electric down the right flank, constantly looking to beat players and wrong foot defenders as he drifted inside onto his left foot. He absolutely embarrassed the ‘ Canaries ‘ defence who were unable to get the ball off him as he cut them open with his dazzling skill, and exceptional close ball control and balance. Dilan is a very small player in both size and stature however, like Samuel Shashoua he is remarkably strong for his small frame.
The technically gifted Markanday is a highly adaptable player who can play anywhere across the front line, and the 17 year old has also filled in at fullback. As he showed by putting in a sterling performance at left back when we faced Swansea in the Premier League cup back in November. He is a player who likes to drive at defences and it’s from those driving runs that Dilan is at his most dangerous. With his low centre of gravity and many twists and turns Markanday is able to wriggle his way out of difficult situations, much like the slightly older Marcus Edwards is able to do. There is a striking likenesses between the two players playing styles. Like Markanday, Edwards can play anywhere across the frontline, and as dribblers go he is one of the very best from his age group in the country. I have often been reminded of the 20 year old when I have watched Markanday in full flow, as they have very similar running styles and movement. Dilan’s footballing idol is one Lionel Messi and the Spurs youngster likes to dribble in a similar way to the Argentine superstar. Don’t get me wrong Markanday is a very direct winger who is always looking to take players on and create chances for his teammates. He isn’t exceptionally quick but when he does run at players with speed he is very hard to dislodge on the ball. I don’t like to compare young players with the legendary George Best but from watching Dilan extensively over the last season and a half it is quite clear that the Londoner has that wow factor about him. When you see a second year scholar dancing around the pitch like a young George Best, beating players with such ease and panache then you know that you’re watching a special young talent. The nimble footed Markanday is an extremely difficult player to defend against, his darting movement and weaving runs make him almost impossible to track. For all of his technical ability one of Dilan’s most impressive traits is that rare ability to ride challenges so well. He is a tough player who doesn’t go to ground easily, and he somehow manages to stay balanced despite the most cynical of fouls and crunching challenges against him. A perfect example of this occurred in our under 18’s last game against Middlesbrough just before Christmas.
Markanday had picked the ball up deep inside his own half out on the right wing, he went on one of his darting runs down the flank. As he advanced forward he was fouled by Middlesbrough’s left back who had went sliding in on him without getting any of the ball. The referee waived play on and unlike most players Markanday was able to keep his balance instead of going down for the free kick. He surged forward for 30 odd yards unopposed before cutting inside onto his left foot and finding Rayan Clarke down the left side of the penalty area with a perfectly weighted pass, Clarke would go onto fire the ball into the top right hand corner of the goal. Markanday doesn’t let his size affect him when he comes up against older and more physical players, and whenever he has appeared for our development side he has always looked bright. Our under 21’s final game of the Tournoi Europeen in pre-season, was a fifth/sixth place play off against French side EA Guingamp. Guingamp were older than us and they had some really physical players in their side. The then 16 year old Markanday started the game out on the right wing and for the vast majority of the match he dazzled with his many weaving runs and sharp twists and turns. It was a very tough test for Markanday and the Guingamp players did try to bully him, but it was to no avail. The youngsters sheer skill and low centre of gravity compensated for his size and lack of muscle, he is a very intelligent young footballer who is able to wriggle away from players while under pressure. The 17 year old has an exceptionally high work rate and his defensive contribution to games is always top class. He is a real grafter who tracks back well after himself and he is actually a good tackler and that’s why he has been played at fullback on the odd occasion. Markanday is also good off the ball and he is an aggressive presser who is good at closing defenders down and putting them under pressure. Like Samuel Shashoua he is the perfect Pochettino player in so many ways.
Interestingly Dilan still hasn’t been called up to represent England at youth level so far in his short career, despite the fact that he is one of the best right wingers at under 18 level in the country. Markanday is also eligible to represent India at international level and I would be surprised if Markanday hasn’t already been approached by the IFA about playing for them. There is so much to write about Dilan’s style of play because he is such a technically gifted attacking player. A good reader of the game, Markanday has a sharp footballing brain and his off the ball movement is something to be admired. He is good at creating space for himself down the flanks and the timing of his runs down the channels is quite impressive. As much of a creative force as Dilan is with his darting runs and attacking forays, and good weight of pass Markanday is also a real goal threat. He is particularly dangerous on the edge of the penalty area where he will often look to test the goalkeeper with a curling low effort towards the far corner of the goal. The winger is also very quick to loose balls inside the danger zone and he is often the first to efforts which have been parried by the goalkeeper. While Markanday is a good finisher who scores a good amount of goals per season he is also one of the most creative players in Matt Wells side. He has so often provided us with that all important spark in matches where we have lacked that all important bit of creativity. Markanday is so like Samuel Shashoua in so many ways and there are a lot of similarities between Dilan and Samuel at the same age. Samuel was absolutely unplayable for our under 18’s in his second year as a scholar and Markanday isn’t far behind that level of performance. Samuel is one of my favourite ever players and although I have drawn comparisons with Marcus Edwards in this article, I think the player who Markanday is most similar to is Samuel Shashoua. They are both such unselfish team players who are craftsmen in their own right. They can pick a pass with precision and they see can gaps in the oppositions defence which few other players notice.
Dilan Markanday is a player who has serious potential and his versatility will stand him in good stead over the coming seasons as he continues his development. It is an absolute joy to see Dilan take players on with such confidence and composure. He is so slick in possession and some of the footwork and movement which I have seen from Markanday this season has been absolutely sensational. Dilan ought to be extremely proud of how well he has been doing for himself this season and what a great asset he has been to Matt Wells richly talented side. I wish Dilan all the very best for the remainder of the season and I look forward to watching him develop over the coming seasons. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Markanday was to be capped at under 18 level by England before the end of the 2018/19 season.