Tottenham Hotspur supporters endured a tough 2022/23 campaign, watching their club languish to an eighth-placed finish as the final remnants of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign drifted away.
Those halcyon days didn’t end an interminable trophy drought but did restore the feel-good factor down at N17, with years of excitement in the Champions League and several thrilling Premier League campaigns, the likes of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane spearheading some delightful attacking football.
The last few years have been challenging, with Antonio Conte’s dismissal last March the fourth sacking that Chairman Daniel Levy had enforced in as many years.
The lowly finish that nailed Kane’s departure meant that the subsequent appointment was paramount, the difference between further woe or a brilliant comeback.
Despite some obstacles, Ange Postecoglou certainly looks to be the right man for the job, leaving his post with Celtic in the summer to head the resurgence at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
He has crafted a squad fit for purpose, reviving struggling members of the squad and landing impactful additions, but he has been gifted with one new arrival actually clinched a year before his introduction in Destiny Udogie, establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s standout stars this season despite his youthful years.
The fee Spurs paid for Destiny Udogie
It was August 2022. Tottenham were settling into the 2022/23 campaign after pipping Arsenal to Champions League qualification the previous May, Conte at the helm.
It was about this time that news broke that teenage left-back Udogie had been signed from Udinese in a £15m deal, though the Italy U21 international would remain at the Stadio Friuli for the season.
Spurs clearly wanted Udogie to gain some valuable experience in his homeland before making the jump to Premier League football, learning the English language to ease the change, and while he would have made an impact last year, it’s paid off now and then some.
Destiny Udogie’s market value now
Udogie is not yet one year into his career on English shores but he is already considered one of the finest full-backs in the division; subjectively, he is in with a good shout for the Premier League’s team of the year if he maintains the performances that have been so consistent over the past months.
And while he will be expected to remain in north London for years to come, Tottenham have already completed a huge success on their investment, with CIES Football Observatory’s player valuation model touting the 21-year-old at €60m (£52m) – this represents a 247% increase in less than two years since that £15m fee was agreed.
It’s safe to assume that value has not yet reached its zenith. The £70k-per-week ace is potent and relentless and endowed with blistering pace and impressive physicality; he is well on the way to becoming the gold standard.
Udogie’s season in numbers
While Postecoglou and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy have received plaudits for the transfer business after the close of the 2022/23 campaign, the best deal might have been struck one year before.
Indeed, Udogie has been sensational for Spurs in a role that has not always been auspicious and has been heralded for his “sickeningly good” performances this season by footballJOE’s Hunter Godson, who also pronounced that the Italian “gets into nearly every team in the world already.”
Destiny Udogie: Key Characteristics
While that is a big claim, there is certainly weight behind the effusive words, Udogie having excelled during his time in the England top flight so far, posting two goals and three assists across 21 appearances this term, completing 86% of his passes and averaging one key pass, 2.9 tackles, 2.6 clearances, 5.8 successful duel wins and 6.1 ball recoveries per game, as per Sofascore.
For a full-back to be displaying such a wide range of strengths in the maiden phase of their Premier League career is quite something.
Udogie might attract the eye for his surges into the danger area, penetrating backlines and drawing defenders toward the flanks to open up space for the likes of James Maddison to pull the strings in the middle, but it is his multi-functional style that truly sets him apart.
As per FBref, Udogie ranks among the top 20% of full-backs across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals scored, the top 15% for pass completion, the top 10% for progressive carries, the top 9% for successful take-ons and the top 12% for touches in the attacking penalty area, tackles and interceptions per 90.
What this basically underlines is a dynamism and tenacity that the lion’s share of wide defenders can only dream of, with a sublime blend of attacking might and defensive solidity, brought together with elite athleticism.
Given his age, Udogie clearly has so much growth yet to occur and he is ensconced in the perfect environment to sharpen his tools, thriving in Postecoglou’s fluid, high-octane system.
One would be forgiven for assuming Udogie had been performing at the top of the game for many years, accolades both to the unit and the self littered behind, but this is a Premier League infant yet to chip into his finest years.
Described as one of Tottenham’s “standout performers” this season by The Athletic’s Charlie Eccleshare, Udogie truly has the making of a world-class star that will attract the most lucrative of attention.
Perhaps a double-edged sword for Postecoglou and co, or perhaps just a reminder of the seat-raising talent at the club’s disposal, hopefully for years to come.