A short piece on Spurs’ under 23’s recent signings Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier:

Back in early October Spurs announced that they had signed Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier on contracts until the end of the 2020/21 season, after they had played for the club on trial. Omole had previously been on Arsenal’s books for a number of years, while Marcel Lavinier had been with west London club Chelsea. Earlier on in the season Spurs announced the signing of right back Keenan Ferguson, a player who had previously been with Yorkshire based club Sheffield United. However, I’m not able to write on him in this short piece, as Spurs haven’t played Sheffield United in a competitive youth match (under 18 or under 23 level) in recent years, and I have only seen him play once for Spurs since he joined the club in the summer. Due to the current situation I have been restricted to watching only a handful of under 23 matches (all of which were online) and unfortunately I haven’t been to a single Spurs under 18 match this season, which is obviously a real shame as I am somebody who has gone to and reported on virtually ever Spurs under 23 and under 18 game in recent years. However, relying on my memory of watching both Marcel Lavinier and Tobi Omole (I was really pleased when Spurs had announced that they had joined the club) play for their respective former clubs on a number of occasions over the years, predominantly playing against Spurs, in this piece I will be writing a short profile on each player, writing about each players style of play and best attributes, etc. Our under 23’s next game is away to Liverpool, on Saturday afternoon at the Liverpool Academy, with the game starting at 15:00pm.

Tobi Omole: Versatile 20 year old defender (turns 21 on the 17th of December) Tobi Omole from Brockley in south London, went to St Columba’s School in Bexleyheath, and had previously been playing for Thamesmead prior to joining Arsenal at under 14’s level. The young Englishman who is also eligible to represent Nigeria at international level, was actually predominantly playing in a midfield role for Thamesmead before moving to Arsenal, when he eventually settled down into a more defensive role in the heart of defence. However, I have seen Omole play for Arsenal at both under 18 and under 23 level at centre half (he usually plays at LCB), left back and at CDM, and he always looked very adept at playing in all of those three defensive positions, since I first saw him play during the 2016/17 season as a first year scholar. A tall defender who reads the game well, is dominant in the air and who often shows good composure on the ball. Omole is one of those defensive players who regardless of where he plays, goes about his job in a quietly very effective manner. For example when he played for Arsenal and captained their under 18 side as a second year scholar, in an Under 18 Premier League South end of season game back in the 2017/18 game, Omole stood out. This was despite the fact that Spurs beat Arsenal 9-0! This was partially down to the fact that Arsenal had an important FA Youth Cup game soon after that match, and ended up fielding a number of players from their under 16 side. In that particular game, Omole showed his good pace and defensive nous and experience, as he performed well at left back, up against Spurs’ tricky and highly skilful winger Dilan Markanday (Markanday enjoyed more luck after Omole was replaced).

The former Arsenal player shows that he is more than comfortable playing as a number four, with his ability to come out from the back with the ball at his feet and pass it out with precision coming in very useful. Playing more than 35 competitive under 18 games for Arsenal and over 20 competitive games for their under 23 side during his time at the club, the Londoner is a strong defensive player who gets stuck in and is good at making important blocks in games. Omole’s versatility as I previously mentioned, is a very good thing for him to have as a young player and it will no doubt put him in very good stead for his future in the professional game. Always a player who has caught my eye (I am somebody who really likes to watch games very closely) with both his ball skills and reading of the game, plus his desire to get tight to forwards, I couldn’t personally spot any real defensive errors from the couple of games that I have seen him play in a Spurs shirt this season, and they were both against very good sides in the Premier League 2. Of course we conceded three goals in the second half of our last under 23 game against Chelsea on Monday, but I feel that it would be very harsh to say that Tobi was at fault for any of Chelsea’s goals. I thought that he asserted himself well on the game, read it well and made some good and important clearances. The 20 year old has already featured in six games for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side in the Premier League 2 this season (three starts and three appearances as a substitute), and I can see him becoming an important player for the side over the course of the season, providing he doesn’t go out on his first ever loan move of his career during the January transfer window. I look forward to seeing more of Tobi this season.

Marcel Lavinier: 20 year old right back and Londoner Marcel Lavinier had been on top Premier League academy side Chelsea’s books, for a number of years before leaving the club at the end of the 2019/20 season. Reportedly trialing for a number of clubs before signing for Spurs in October, like Omole the player who has been capped as high up as under 17 level for England, and who has also represented Portugal at youth level (under 18 level), is a player who I have also been impressed with whenever I have seen him play at academy level over the years. Possessing real pace, Lavinier can operate either at right back or left back, as well as at centre half and on the right side of midfield as a wing back. A quadruple winner with that great Chelsea under 18 team during the 2017/18 season, the fullback can be just as effective in the final third as he is at defending his side of the pitch. His ability to glide past players at speed as well as being comfortable to play on either flank, makes him a really potent player going forward for his team, and he registered a number of assists for Chelsea at under 18 level from playing out wide. Making over 40 competitive appearances for Chelsea’s under 18 side and over 20 competitive appearances for their under 23 side, the former Chelsea Academy school pupil certainly tested our defenders whenever we played for Chelsea at under 18 level in particular. A defender who is good technically, Lavinier has already made eight starts for our under 23 side since joining Spurs in October, and he seems to have settled in well. As a defender he is somebody who is alert defensively and also tenacious and aggressive in his defending too, and in the recent under 23 game against his old club Chelsea his great pace and desire to get forward and time his runs well with left winger Jack Clarke, was really evident.

Although Lavinier is right footed, he is as I previously mentioned more than capable of playing on that left hand side. He was tested a lot in the second half of that Premier League 2 game against Chelsea, and with the quality forwards that they had playing for them last Monday, it is not surprising that a lot was asked of the young Spurs man in that particular game. The same happened in the game against Manchester United earlier in the season, when Marcel had to defend against the talented Shola Shoretire, and this demanded him to be focused and alert at all times. I like Lavinier a lot as a player, and I think that like Omole he could have a good future at Spurs, and I really look forward to seeing both players (when I get the chance) play for our under 23 side during the remainder of the season, and I would also like to wish both Marcel and Tobi all the very best of luck for the rest of this season.

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