Tottenham widen transfer net, Newcastle track Sunderland gem and Man Utd starlet set for big chance


The “Northern Notebook” is i‘s weekly look inside the biggest football clubs in the north of England, providing insight, analysis and news on the burning issues of the day

Tottenham Hotspur are attempting to compete with the two big Manchester clubs and the likes of Leeds United for the best young players on their own patches as they beef up their scouting operation in the North West and Yorkshire.

Spurs are interviewing for a new emerging talent scout primarily focusing on players between the age of 16-20 – with a focus on the sizeable patch that incorporates football hotbeds Merseyside, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. The new scout will work closely with Chris Perkins, Tottenham’s head of emerging talent, who was poached from Everton last summer.

The scout will be expected to follow up on key targets and compile lists of potential recruits from an area that the club see as a potential gold mine for new talent ready to make an impact.

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It is understood they are looking for an experienced candidate and there has been plenty of interest in the role.

The new appointment is also a wider reflection of Premier League clubs’ new recruitment priorities in the wake of Brexit, which has made it much harder to bring in the best under-20 talent from Europe.

EU-based players now have to earn GBPE points through appearances and international credentials to play in England, a problem that Leeds director of football Victor Orta bemoaned as seriously limiting the recruitment pool for big clubs.

Tottenham are not the only club widening their network in areas they might have traditionally left to rivals.

Brighton, Leicester and Wolverhampton Wanderers have also beefed up their scouting networks in the north, in Scotland and in parts of Ireland as they adapt to the new circumstances.

Spurs have revamped their scouting processes since Fabricio Paratici took over as director of football, improving their use of data and video scouting. But their move into areas traditionally dominated by the two big Manchester clubs is an interesting new development in northern football recruitment.

It is likely to mean the battle to recruit the best British young players will become even more competitive in the coming years. Clubs are also starting to look to South America and North America, where the GBPE system will make it easier to bring in outstanding talent from those markets – who may have found it difficult to earn work permits in the past.

One recruitment specialist told i: “Clubs have been slow to adapt to the new rules – partly because there was a real lack of clarity around the GBPE system until fairly recently. But now we are starting to see them pivot towards the UK and areas where they wouldn’t normally have applied an awful lot of resources, like South and Central America.

“Things will fundamentally change in the next few years.”

Sunderland gem nears exit

Everton and Newcastle are tracking Sunderland’s highly-rated midfielder Chris Rigg, who has featured for the under-18 side at the age of just 14.

i understands the Toffees are set to move for Rigg in the summer. But Newcastle – whose under-23 boss Elliot Dickman used to work for the Black Cats – are also interested.

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The word in scouting circles is that Sunderland have another highly rated youngster in Mason Cotcher, who has also featured for the under-18 side this season.

Man Utd youngster set for big chance

Manchester United midfielder James Garner looks set to get a chance to impress incoming boss Erik ten Hag after a stellar spell on loan at Nottingham Forest.

Ten Hag will take over in the summer and wants to take a close look at players who have impressed out on loan.

Ten Hag is keen to embrace United’s impressive record of working with their academy.

Burnley make decisions on future

Burnley are almost certain to hand Mike Jackson the manager’s job on an interim basis until the end of the season after collecting seven points from his first three games in charge.

Owner Alan Pace received fierce criticism for sacking Sean Dyche at a pivotal point in their relegation battle but, so far, the move looks like an inspired one. That is despite sources suggesting there was no clear plan for an alternative when Dyche left.

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Potential candidates including Sam Allardyce and Chris Wilder have fallen by the wayside, with the latter committing himself to Middlesbrough. As i revealed last week Daniel Farke is waiting until the summer to assess his options – but would be open to a return to English football.

i understands interest in an overseas manager in the first week of the managerial search was rebuffed, which paved the way for Jackson to get his opportunity. If he keeps the club in the Premier League, he is surely favourite for the job on a permanent basis.



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