Ismail Azzaoui giving Tottenham supporters glimpse of the future at under-17 Euros

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Tottenham supporters could be forgiven for not getting overly excited about a young player excelling at under-17 level given how successful John Bostock's career at White Hart Lane was.

Bostock was 16 when he joined Spurs from Crystal Palace in an acrimonious but nonetheless exciting transfer, but the move didn't work out and now the former England under-17 captain is rebuilding his career in the Belgian second division. 

However, in the European under-17 championships currently taking place in Bulgaria, Ismail Azzaoui is building quite a reputation for himself and proving exactly why Tottenham were so keen to sign the 17-year-old from Anderlecht in January last year. 

Who is Ismail Azzaoui?

Azzaoui has represented Belgium at under-15, under-16 and under-17 level, having progressed through the prodigious youth system at Anderlecht that is also responsible for producing Romelu Lukaku, Vincent Kompany and Adnan Januzaj.

The attacking midfielder turned down professional terms at Anderlecht to join Spurs and link up with compatriots Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and Nacer Chadli in a similar deal that saw Januzaj move to Manchester United.

Anderlecht head of youth development Jean Kindermans told Het Laatste Niuws at the time of the deal: "When players become 16 we offer them a development plan and later a financial plan. We aren't going to change our way of working.

"We regret he's going to be leaving us, but you can't compare this loss to Januzaj's move to Manchester United a few years ago."

Azzaoui has shone while playing for Tottenham's youth side this season, especially in their progression to the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup, registering his first hat-trick against Blackburn during a 4-1 win in December.  

Playing style 

Although Azzaoui is right-footed he plays his best football cutting in from the left-hand side where his dribbling ability and speed allow him to influence the game in attacking areas. Whisper it quietly but Azzaoui has drawn comparisons with countryman Eden Hazard for his aggressive, low centre of gravity, dribbling and ability to manipulate the ball at close quarters.  

The 17-year-old has impressive composure when presented with a goalscoring opportunity, often manoeuvring the ball onto his right foot when through on goal, as he showed when scoring against England under-16s in February last year. 

Azzaoui's match winning performance against Czech Republic in Belgium's second European under-17 Group B game marked the youngster out as an exceptional talent among his peers. 

Early on in the game Azzaoui picked the the ball 60 yards from goal, gliding past two defenders, before forcing the goalkeeper into a save. His first goal showed excellent technique when he took a hopeful punt in his stride at full sprint, cutting inside from the right-hand side and beating the keeper, while he also slotted a penalty in the 3-0 win. 

What next?

Azzaoui is under the perfect manager, Mauricio Pochettino, to progress into the first-team setup at White Hart Lane.

Pochettino has shown willingness to continue blooding the likes of Harry Kane, Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason who have become key players in hist first-team plans, while academy graduates Harry Winks and Joshua Onomah have also made their debuts under the Argentinean.   

The Belgian starlet has made the jump from the under-18 side to the under-21s this season and, if he continues to impress for Ugo Ehiogu's side, appearances in the Europa League, Carling Cup and FA Cup could be forthcoming.

For now the youngster will be focussing on progressing as far in the Euros with Belgium, who are on course to progress from the final Group Stage for the first time. Tottenham supporters should tune in to watch Azzaoui when they can and get an exciting glimpse of the not-to-distant future.  

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Mauricio Pochettino
Vincent Kompany
Jan Vertonghen
John Bostock
Romelu Lukaku
Moussa Dembele
Tottenham Hotspur
Belgium Football
Europa League
Eden Hazard

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