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How Tottenham have turned around struggling academy by signing planet’s top kids after beating Barcelona to wonderkid

COMING up behind Tottenham’s exciting crop of youngsters, they have . . . an exciting crop of youngsters.

Micky van de Ven, Destiny Udogie, Pape Matar Sarr and Brennan Johnson are all 22 or under.

Ange Postecoglou has one of the youngest squads in the Premier League

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Ange Postecoglou has one of the youngest squads in the Premier LeagueCredit: AFP
Swedish wonderkid Lucas Bergvall signed for Tottenham last week

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Swedish wonderkid Lucas Bergvall signed for Tottenham last weekCredit: Rex

Even Dejan Kulusevski — with 81 Spurs appearances since arriving in January 2022 — is still only 23.

But all are first-team regulars at the North London club, making boss Ange Postecoglou’s squad the joint-third youngest in the Premier League.

The average age across the whole squad is 25 years and four months — the same as rivals Arsenal, with only Burnley and Chelsea coming in younger.

But underneath the first team, a rejuvenation project of its own is happening which also has fans feeling optimistic.

Spurs have been quietly adding teen prospect after prospect to set themselves up for the future.

That has seen them splash out on red-hot talent from abroad, like last week’s capture of Swedish sensation Lucas Bergvall, 18, from Djurgarden.

Midfielder Bergvall looked all set to join Spanish giants Barcelona but changed his mind, seeing more of a pathway to the first team at Spurs.

Tottenham have also looked to the domestic academy market to bolster their ranks — Will Lankshear, now 18, joined from Sheffield United in 2022 — while they have made renewed efforts to stop their own whizkids from being poached.

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Last summer, Spurs successfully held on to one of the most-talked-about kids around in 16-year-old Mikey Moore.

Former managing director of football Fabio Paratici sparked this fresh focus on youth by convincing Spurs chairman Daniel Levy to spend more on signing academy players.

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The Italian resigned last April after being banned over his role in the financial scandal at former club Juventus.

After part of his suspension was lifted, Paratici has continued to work with Tottenham on a consultancy basis.

 Fifth-placed Spurs are going well in the Premier League but they are doing even better in Premier League 2, the Under-21 equivalent of the top flight. That means the reserves, in old money.

They are top of the table having won all 11 of their games — with Lankshear grabbing 11 goals and Jude Soonsup-Bell, 20 and signed from Chelsea, on eight.

In the Under-18s league table, for the south of the country, Spurs are also top, although they have lost three games.

Despite all this development and the fact that Tottenham are making progress on Postecoglou’s desire to make them THE destination for the world’s best young players, the Aussie feels the club’s academy is well short of where he wants.

The former Celtic boss, 58, said ahead of Spurs’ 2-2 draw at Everton last time out: “We have got a lot of work to do in our academy — and (academy director) Simon Davies is certainly one that is putting a lot of emphasis and priority there.

“I don’t think we have the production line other top clubs have, certainly not.

“Even currently that’s why we’re investing in some younger players, even for the first team.

“For us as a football club that’s definitely the way forward.”

TOTTENHAM’S YOUNG GUNS

Five of the top teens at Spurs:

LUCAS BERGVALL, midfielder, 18

Swede snubbed Barcelona at the 11th hour to join Spurs in an £8.5million deal plus add-ons.

And the 6ft 1in midfielder expects to go straight into the first team when he arrives on July 1.

JAMIE DONLEY, attacker, 19

MADE himself a hero cynically taking out wind-up merchant Neal Maupay near the end of last week’s 3-2 win over Brentford.

Played for England and Northern Ireland Under-19s.

MIKEY MOORE, winger, 16

TIPPED as a future star, Moore’s natural dribbling ability and vision on the ball certainly make him one to watch.

Last summer, Spurs convinced him to sign a new deal until 2026

LUKA VUSKOVIC, centre-back, 16

IT is hard to believe the Croat is only 16 given what a unit he is, at 6ft 4ins.

Spurs saw off Man City to land him last summer for £12m from Hajduk Split — but he will not join until 2025.

WILL LANKSHEAR, striker, 18

THE Welwyn Garden City-born ace started at Arsenal’s academy before heading to Sheffield United.

Spurs paid £2m to bring him back to London and this year he has been on fire in PL2.

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