The Norwich City player up there with Mbappe and Co as one of Europe’s top young talents
PUBLISHED: 13:33 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 00:40 22 February 2018
JASON DAWSON ©Jason Dawson
Here’s a quiz question for Norwich City supporters: which of your players would you consider to be worth more than £50million ... if he were a Brazilian (and it’s not James Maddison)?
Answer: Marcus Edwards.
If you didn’t get it, don’t worry: no one has seen the 19-year-old pull on a Norwich City shirt in a game situation yet – not for the under 23s, not the first team. You name it, he hasn’t played it. For whatever reason the young man on loan from Tottenham hasn’t been sighted.
This is the player likened to Lionel Messi by his Spurs boss, Mauricio Pochettino. And now, placed among other, younger, exalted company by Gazzetta dello Sport, which has named Edwards in its list of Europe’s most promising players.
Edwards is ranked 34th in a list of the top 98 (no idea) footballers below the age of 20 (meaning they were born in or after 1998).
Kylian Mbappé leads the way with Christian Pulisic second. Run your finger down and you get to Edwards, the first British player named.
Gazzetta dello Sport, that fine Italian newspaper, says “if he was Brazilian, he would be worth €70-80m”. They also add: “If he doesn’t play, there must be something fishy.”
Which is probably what a lot of City fans are thinking. Officially, Edwards – who joined on loan around a moth ago – has had a bit of a back problem, although there is a back story which has set a rumour mill going that isn’t usually afforded a 19-year-old loan players yet to make their debut. He has already been publicly told to ‘grow up’ by Pochettino and City head coach Daniel Farke says he has to “grow up in his attitude”. “There is no doubt with the ball he is one of our best players. But without it, he has to grow up a bit,” he said.
The deal with Spurs puts City in a no lose situation – if he doesn’t fit in he can just go back – but there will be many who are more than a little keen to see Edwards in action and it would be an awful shame if either his back problem or a failure to settle in Norfolk until the end of the season when his half-season loan ends, means we all miss out.
Spurs fans on social media will tell you he is brilliant, but has an attitude problem. He wouldn’t be the first or last to be described that way. It’s just we don’t often get a Messi-like figure in these parts. Apart from James Maddison....
As an aside...
You wouldn’t want to wish back pain on anyone, but let’s hope that is what is keeping Marcus Edwards out of action, rather than an attitude problem.
There have been plenty of players who have been unable to make the switch from promising youngster to well-developed player. Football is about more than just the skill set: it is about marrying that up to 100pc discipline and commitment.
Some make it, others just don’t have the vital final piece of the jigsaw.
Ravel Morrison was, according to Rio Ferdinand, “probably the most naturally gifted young kid I’ve ever seen”. Fergie agreed, saying Morrison’s was “the saddest case”. The pair fell out, Morrison left Manchester United and has never found a home – he’s currently trying to with Mexican side Atlas.
Remember Freddy Adu, the wonderkid who turned pro with DC United at 14, but is now well into double figures of employers in eight different countries? He’s more likely to be seen in the Third Division than on a Champions League stage.
Gambia-born Cherno Samba scored at a rate of four a game in his early teens and was tipped as the great England hope for the 2006 World Cup, having represented his country at every youth level up to under-20s. He turned down offers from top clubs to sign for Millwall, where he was guaranteed first team football. Except he wasn’t. It didn’t happen and a journeyman career took him to Spain, Finland, Greece and Norway before he quit in 2015, with no senior caps and no top level games on his record.
Nile Ranger should have had the world at his feet; instead, there was too often a security tag attached to one of them. The striker has a record as long as your arm, so instead of making it at Newcastle, he was given “another chance” at a variety of lower league clubs. The latest, Southend, terminated his contract last month because of “reoccurring disciplinary issues”.
Competition for the world’s best talent is intense: last year Barcelona signed Brazilian Manu. He was aged 11. No one knows how he will turn out. If it doesn’t work out, he will simply join the list.