Oliver Skipp: A star in the making?
When Oliver Skipp put pen to paper on a new four year deal earlier this month he was labelled a ‘future Tottenham captain’ by boss Jose Mourinho who clearly holds the 19-year-old midfielder in high regard. The youngster has bags of potential but exactly who is Oliver Skipp and just how good could he become?
Small steps into the first team
Skipp was born only a 45 minute car drive from White Hart Lane in Welwyn Garden City before being raised in Hertford and his entire footballing education has been at Spurs. He joined the academy at age 12. He’s been highly rated ever since. Ater making an impression at youth level with both the under 18s and under 23s he was given his first taste of senior action as a 17-year-old by former manager Mauricio Pochettino during the clubs pre-season tour in the US.
A competitive debut against West Ham followed in October. Skipp entering the action for the final six minutes of Tottenham’s 3-1 League Cup win. By the end of that season, Skipp added a further 396 minutes to his senior career in the form of two full games – both in the FA cup – six sub appearances and two further starts where he was subbed off in the second half. He also featured on the bench for seven Champions League ties as Spurs made the final where they lost out to Liverpool.
This season has been an odd one for Skipp, as it has for most of the Spurs players. ‘Poch’ has moved on and Mourinho arrived as his replacement. With that has come a change in approach. Mourinho has admitted that an ideal world would have seen Skipp out on loan learning his craft in a truly competitive environment. Squad circumstances, however, have meant that he’s remained part of the Spurs setup. Skipp has been a regular on the bench but has only added a matter of minutes – 296 to be precise – to his playing experience.
A screwed on head
When you listen to Skipp talk it’s easy to forget he’s still in his teenage years. You can see why Mourinho likes him so much. He’s barely kicked a ball under Mourinho but the two have clearly conversed a fair amount on Skipp’s route to the big time. The midfielder evidently buys into the long term plan too. Skipp spoke openly after his new deal was announced and whilst he was thrilled to have secured a long term deal with his boyhood team it was his talk of mentality, physical conditioning and learning his trade that would have been music to the ears of his coaches.
It is true that a real footballing education comes on the pitch but being around players like Harry Kane, Jan Vertonghen and Erik Lamela – who are all regarded as top professionals – will only serve you well. Skipp cited exactly that with the additional benefit of having been involved in high profile matchdays. Where his manager was concerned, he stated that the new contract gave him reassurance that Mourinho trusted him whilst he’s been enjoying absorbing the tactical genius that is ‘The Special One’ .
Now though, the attention must turn specifically to him. Skipp needs to go and prove that he won’t be just another youngster to fall by the wayside after receiving such hype. It doesn’t feel like he’s the sort of character that will do that. He’s already putting extra shifts in at the gym to improve his pace and power. He believes they’ll become more and more important in the Premier League. The proof is in the pudding and, in football, that means getting onto the grass.
What is next?
Well, almost definitely, Skipp will be heading out on loan. The question is whether or not he gets to ply his trade in one of Europe’s top five leagues. There is currently concrete interest from several clubs. Championship duo Nottingham Forest and Reading are known to be keen whilst Premier League pair Burnley and Southampton have made enquiries. The other side mentioned is Fulham, who are in a strong position to make the Championship play-off final.
The obvious answer on where to send him is to a club in the top tier. Could they use a Skipp loan to sweeten the deal for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who is a Spurs target? Of course, there are benefits to a drop in division too. He’d be more likely to play regular football and a gruelling 46 match league campaign certainly helps with adapting to men’s football. It’s not a reflection on how good a player is either; just look at Mason Mount from Chelsea if you need an example of that. He spent a year with Derby where he showed himself to be one of the best players in the Championship and he’s returned to his parent club to tear things up this year.
What is Oliver Skipp’s style?
Skipp’s preferred role is as a defensive midfielder. He’s also capable of dropping into the back four as a centre half. In terms of how he plays the game, it’s all about possession. Regain and recycle. He likes to be on the front foot and presses the opposition regularly. Once on the ball he keeps things simple ensuring possession isn’t lost but he’s not all about backwards and sideways passing either with a desire to play forwards. An 87% pass succession is decent and is a further reflection of his composure.
Of course, whilst it would be foolish to dismiss his stats as nothing, they are based off a limited amount of game time so don’t necessarily tell the whole picture.
The final word
Skipp is currently priced at £0.93 on Football Index. If a loan move to a PB league is confirmed then a small increase may come with improved likelihood of playing matches. Regardless of where he ends up, he’s probably not going to explode just yet without significant PB performances. If you’re interested in a long term hold though, then Skipp has the potential for massive percentage gains.
Oliver Skipp, invest or pass?