“We are talking about a great centre-back, with a great future.”
These are the words of Argentina national team manager Lionel Scaloni, speaking about Tottenham defender Juan Foyth.
Had it not been for the nourishment and risk-taking of Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, Foyth may not have even been on Scaloni’s radar.
The 20-year old’s career has suddenly kick started over the last month. The defender made his league debut, scored his first career goal and made his senior international debut all in the space of just three weeks.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing for the Argentine, as it took him over a year to make his league debut for the Lilywhites.
After signing from Estudiantes last summer, the youngster was tipped to be a hot prospect for the future.
THE POCHETTINO EFFECT
First team chances proved hard to come by for Foyth. The youngster has had to bide his time as he found himself down the pecking order to Jan Verthongen, Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez.
Typical of Pochettino’s man management, he was integrated slowly into the squad, until he had a firm grasp of every aspect of the manager’s policies.
This is typical of the guile of Pochettino, who doesn’t bring anyone into the first team for the sake of it.
He ensures each player is aware of and understands what his philosophies are about, to maximise their potential.
Even Lucas Moura, an established name, wasn’t thrown straight into the mix when he first signed. He had to earn his place, something that has seen him improve his game over the last six months.
LIFE IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE
Foyth made a horror start to his Premier League career, conceding two penalties against Wolves at the start of November.
However, Pochettino showed faith in the youngster by keeping him in the lineup for the following fixture against Crystal Palace.
Foyth repaid his compatriots faith and showed character by bouncing back in the Palace game. He held his own in defence and scored the all important game winner that kept Spurs on track in their pursuit of those ahead of them in the league.
The young Argentinian was rewarded with a first senior international call up and marked his debut with a man of the match performance against Mexico last week.
News that star man Jan Verthongen has returned to full training from a hamstring may stunt the 20- year old’s playing time.
JUAN FOR THE FUTURE
Foyth, however, is proving himself to be a capable deputy to Verthongen, Alderweireld or Sanchez, should any of them become unavailable as the busy Christmas period approaches.
This gives Pochettino the option of reverting to a back three regardless of the personnel at his disposal. This is a tactic with which Spurs have enjoyed considerable success recently.
It also allows the club to switch focus for January’s transfer window. With Foyth growing in stature, the need for another central defender now doesn’t seem so vital.
By no means the finished article, Foyth is still learning. But for now, he is a star pupil thriving in Pochettino’s school of footballing excellence.
In years to come, he may prove to be a bargain as he progresses along with what is an exciting transitional period at the club.