A right-back who has most often been playing as a winger out on the right flank so far this season (2021/22), Maxwell McKnight (17) is a player who in my opinion has had a very good first season as a scholar at Spurs, so far. The Colchester born first year scholar who was previously with West Ham United up until around five years ago, has been a key player for head-coach Stuart Lewis’ Spurs Under 18 side this season. McKnight joined Spurs on a full-time basis in the summer of 2021 and made his competitive debut for the Spurs Under 18 side in their opening Premier League South game of the season, against Fulham last August. The player who provided 12 assists for the Spurs Under 16 side last season as well as scoring some goals, has made an impressive total of 24 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 18 side so far this season. The 17 year old has been really impressive this season, both at right-back and as a winger. He has created a really good number of chances for the forwards from out wide, and he has provided the most assists for his teammates in the Spurs Under 18 side (nine). McKnight has had several very good games for the Spurs Under 18 side this season.
So what type of player is Maxwell? Well regardless of whether he starts matches on the right flank as either a winger or as a full-back (he is also capable of starting out on the left flank), he is a very quick and direct player, and one who really likes to take on defenders. Whenever I have seen him play for Spurs at Academy level I have noticed that Maxwell is always looking to take players on, and that includes without the ball, when he is looking to get in a more forward position to receive the ball. Physical on the ball but also skilful with it at his feet, he has used his pace really well in matches this season, and with his quick feet he can be very difficult to defend against. Maxwell also has good balance on the pitch, works very hard off the ball and has shown a real determination to make a difference in matches this season for the Spurs Under 18 side. In many ways when playing as a winger, Maxwell reminds me of a very direct and traditional English winger, as someone who likes to take players on and deliver promising crosses into the penalty area, although he is also unpredictable with the ball.
Maxwell’s ability to cross a ball really well is very impressive, and he puts lots of pace and curl on his crosses (he can also hit a ball sweetly). McKnight also tracks back well after him as a winger, and he links up well with the right-back. As a right-back he manages to get into good defensive positions, while also getting forward well as well, to make good overlapping runs, as he showed in the most recent Under 18 game, between Spurs and Reading. In many ways I think that Maxwell is very much like a modern day full-back, and one who combines his defensive duties with getting forward to join the forwards well. Going back a few years to when Anthony Georgiou and Shilow Tracey played for Spurs out wide at Academy level, Maxwell reminds me a bit of both of those players, particularly Georgiou, because of his versatility, pace, tenacity and directness with the ball. It will be interesting to see which position he will be playing in on the pitch in the long term for Spurs.
Particularly impressive in two games against Crystal Palace and West Brom respectively this season. Both of these games showed in my opinion Maxwell at his best, at this stage of his career. In both matches he showed a real desire to get forward while starting as a winger on the right flank, and he was constantly creating space for himself to receive the ball, get forward with it and create chances for his teammates. He has been very unselfish in his play this season, and both of those games showed this. He got an assist in both of those games. Maxwell will be hoping to start for Spurs’ Under 17 side tomorrow evening, in their Under 17 Premier League Cup final against Manchester City at the Loughborough University Stadium. Maxwell is just at the beginning of his footballing career, and I would like to say well done for how he has done so far this season, as in my opinion he has done very well. I also would like to wish him all the best for the remainder of the season, and it will be interesting to see if he is included in the Spurs Under 19 squad that will compete in the end of season Terborg Tournament, in The Netherlands.