On Sunday, 17-year old Irish striker Troy Parrott made his first-team debut for Tottenham in their International Champions Cup game against Juventus in Shanghai.
Having impressed with Spurs’ underage sides last season, Parrott was included in Mauricio Pochettino’s squad for the pre-season tour with a host of reports outlining that the Tottenham manager has big plans for the striker ahead of the upcoming campaign.
Given his opportunity from the start and featuring for 45 minutes, Parrott impressed many onlookers with his work-rate, maturity on the ball and involvement in Spurs’ opener.
Following the game, many Irish fans continued to board the Parrott hype train which has been in full swing ever since his goalscoring exploits at underage level became public knowledge, and the Robbie Keane comparisons began flooding in.
But are Ireland fans right to be excited about the 17-year-old? Could he be the man to rescue the Boys in Green from their post-Robbie goalscorer drought?
We decided to take an in-depth look at Troy Parrott’s solid 45 minutes on his Tottenham debut and explore the former Belvedere man’s qualities as a frontman.
Credit to both Tottenham and Juventus, they played relatively strong lineups from the start, both sides going with a mix of youth and experience for the first 45 minutes.
Parrott started up front for Spurs in what looked like it was going to be a straight-forward 4-2-3-1, but it was soon clear that he would be accompanied by Heung Min-Son in the frontline with the midfield behind switching to a diamond.
Not a trait many would have associated with Parrott but from the beginning on Sunday it was clear that, at the very least, he was going to run his socks off for the team.
In the below clip, Parrott tracks the Juventus defender well and anticipates that his teammate, Erik Lamela on this occasion, will win the ball back and as a result, he takes up a smart position to receive it.
Ultimately his touch lets him down, but it’s good, intelligent work from the off.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Parrott displays hard-working qualities and a team-first ethic. It’s a trait that Pochettino values in a player and one that he will have undoubtedly helped the striker improve on.
Here we see Parrott, along with Lamela and Son, pressuring the Juventus defence in posession and when the ball is released he’s quick to close down his man, showing excellent awareness once again to capitalise on a heavy first touch.
Parrott is then calm in possession and plays a smart and simple ball, with Tottenham now finding themselves in a strong area high up the pitch thanks to his willingness to close down his defender.
The final example of Parrott’s work rate that we’re going to highlight comes towards the end of the half and in a similar style to the previous clip.
Once more the young striker shows a strong sense of anticipation and a good read of the game as he capitalises quickly on an errant touch from the defender to win back possession and find a teammate with a simple yet effective pass.
Talent will only get you so far, but early indications are that Parrott has the work rate to match.
Link Up Play
Considering this was Parrott’s first time playing with the Spurs first team, he showed an excellent understanding with his teammates, and in particular with his strike partner Heung Min Son.
Throughout the 45 minutes they played together the duo appeared to be constantly on the same page, linking up well and appearing to have a strong reading of one another’s game.
Here we see Son making a smart run and Parrott, in turn, making an intelligent pass as he lifts his head and finds a teammate in a better position as opposed to taking the chance on himself.
In this clip below, Parrott shows tremendous skill to win the ball ahead of the Juventus defender and immediately gets his head up to find the South Korean with a pass.
He is then intelligent enough to continue his run in support of his teammate. A really tidy passage of play from Parrott, in the move which starts the goal.
Eye For Goal
Using that as a bridge into the Spurs opener, Parrott’s intelligence and eye for goal are on full display in this sequence. After he skips by his man and finds Son with the pass, the run he makes is that of a player with far more nous than his tender age would suggest.
As he joins the attack Parrott opts for an overlapping run in behind Son as opposed to a dart into the box, a move which intelligently leads to a 2-on-1 situation for the defender on the right.
Parrott then receives the ball from Son and gets a shot at goal, and although he doesn’t find the net, his strike is too hot for even the legendary Gianluigi Buffon to handle and he spills it allowing Erik Lamela to follow up with the finish.
Parrott wasn’t finished there however and continued to show his natural eye for goal, one that saw him score 15 goals in just 12 games for Tottenham’s U18s last season.
Again we see his intelligent running and willingness to support his strike partner, and even though Son was offside in the build-up, it was smart play from young marksman.
In our final example, Parrott shows very strong hold-up play, linking up nicely again with his teammates, Lamela in this instance, playing a nice 1-2 before immediately striking at goal.
The shot is ultimately blocked well by the Juventus defence, but it was another clear indication that a pop at goal in constantly at the back of his mind.
The expectations for Parrott are already very high and perhaps that will be a hindrance to his still early development as a player.
The signs so far though are very promising and given the qualities, he briefly displayed against Juventus his future could be very bright in both and a Tottenham and an Irish jersey.