Dane Scarlett is going to be a football star

It’s been a breakout year for 18-year-old Tottenham Hotspur academy forward Dane Scarlett. This summer he played a key role for England, scoring twice as the Young Lions won the UEFA European Under-19 Championship over Israel. He came to abrupt attention in 2020-21, scoring 17 goals for Tottenham’s Under-18s and three goals in five games for Spurs’ Under-23s as a 16-year-old, enough to be a permanent member of the club’s coaching staff. first team last season.

His stats weren’t quite as flashy last season, but that’s mainly because he spent a lot of time on the Tottenham first-team bench, fielding 24 Premier League matchday teams, which included a 3-minute cameo in a win. 4-0 over Leeds. . He also played in three Europa Conference League games, starting two of them. At the end of last season, people were whispering quietly (and not so quietly) that the Spurs might have another bona fide star on their hands.

His talent and work-rate were enough to land him an outright loan this summer, moving to League One side Portsmouth for the 2022-23 season. League One is a tough place to play, especially for an 18-year-old, and despite languishing down the pyramid in recent years, Portsmouth have one of the biggest followings of any club outside the Premier League. There aren’t many bigger stages or better opportunities for a young player like Dane to make an impression.

And based on his early returns, he’s made a HUGE impression. Scarlett took a bit of time to adjust to life in League One with Pompey, but she’s played in every game so far this season. She broke the scoring duck of hers last week, putting up the match winner in a 1-0 win over Port Vale. And then yesterday, as his parent club were beating Fulham, Dane scored both of Pompey’s goals, winning Man of the Match in a 2-1 home win over Peterborough United.

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Dane’s first goal was a wonderful headed goal that came from an equally beautiful run to the near post. His second of his, the match winner, was practically Kane-esque: he received the ball in the box, dribbled and fired a shot between his defender’s legs that went past the keeper at the near post.

Dane’s goals can be seen starting at minute 1:02” in the following video.

After the match, Pompey’s manager Danny Cowley called Scarlett “unplayable”.

“I thought Dane Scarlett was unplayable in the first half. I think he is only one goal away from scoring a huge number of goals at this level.”

Young players can find their first loans a real wake-up call: they go from dominating players their own age to being kicked around by adult professional footballers a couple of levels down the pyramid. It’s not uncommon for even players with outstanding potential to sit on the bench or have a bad loan – see Harry Kane’s loans at Norwich and Leicester before his breakthrough from Spurs.

But so far, Scarlett has adapted extremely well to League One. She already has an npGA/90 of 1.03 and is averaging over three shots per 90 while playing in a 4-4-2 shot association, mostly with the experienced forward Colby Bishop. Her three goals and one assist in seven games at 18 years old are just ridiculous.

Those performances don’t go unnoticed by Pompey’s faithful either. Portsmouth fans have already fallen in love: he had a song at Fratton Park even before he scored his first goal.

It’s too easy for fans to get caught up praising young players. It’s fun! You get to pin your hopes and dreams on someone with a bright future, but the flip side of that coin is the loads of expectations that fans place on the shoulders of those who are often the least prepared to handle them. There’s a good chance Dane could come back down to earth at some point this season, either through injury or, more likely, a period when shots don’t drop and performances flag.

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Also, as good as he has been for Portsmouth, really Spurs fans should be prepared for the possibility that he is still at least 1-2 years away from making any kind of impact in the first team. There aren’t that many players who have made the jump from League One directly to the Premier League, and the only one I can think of is currently playing for Besiktas. Player development is rarely linear and there will undoubtedly be challenges and obstacles ahead for Scarlett.

But that said? Holy smokes. Dane is exceeding all expectations on the South Coast right now. He is proving that he not only has the skills, but also the work rate and attitude to be a star, and he is building a solid platform for future success. His academy teammate Troy Parrott (on loan at Championship side Preston North End) might be closer to the first team at the moment, but it’s hard not to look at what Dane is doing in League One and wonder if will be the player. who eventually fills Harry Kane’s boots at Tottenham.

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