As plans are laid in place for the 2016/17 campaign, it seems increasingly likely that Pochettino will seek to invest in the Tottenham midfield, as defeats at Southampton and Newcastle drew focus on a significant lack of depth following the suspensions of key individuals in such an important area of the pitch.
The humiliating defeat on Tyneside left a furious Pochettino red in the face and served to call into question the future prospects of one uninspired performer in particular, the beleaguered Ryan Mason.
With this in mind, we discuss whether time has come on the academy product’s stay at White Hart Lane.
So where do we begin with young Ryan?
Well, maybe by highlighting the fact that he’s no longer that young.
Having risen through the academy to make his first Tottenham appearance in 2008, the energetic midfielder spent much of his early career serving apprenticeships out on loan to partner clubs in the lower divisions, including a 22 game stint at Swindon Town in 2014.
Only in 2015 (and at age 23), with Mauricio Pochettino having recently been brought to the helm, did Mason truly get his opportunity to prove his mettle as a Tottenham Hotspur player.
Forging a strong relationship with a fellow academy prospect, Nabil Bentaleb, Mason delivered a stable platform in the centre of the park as the team finished strongly towards the end of the campaign with a respectable fifth place finish.
Form enough for Mason himself to even be bestowed the honour of a debut for the national team (cueing absolute pandemonium from within the echelons of the Mark Noble fandom), coming on to assist Andros Townsend in the 1-1 draw with Italy at the Juventus Stadium.
It needs not be said that football, like show business, is a fast-moving industry. Come the summer of 2016, little over a year on from his bursting onto centre stage at White Hart Lane and Mason’s career sadly appears to be entrenched in ‘the land where time stood still’.
An unassuming start to the 2015/16 campaign saw the Englishman relegated to the bench as the emergence of the precocious talent that is Dele Alli, coupled with Eric Dier’s phenomenal transition from central defensive understudy to England’s Premier midfield enforcer saw the focus shift onto the new stars of the show.
And, with the exception of injuries and suspensions to Mousa Dembélé and Dele Alli, the bench is a location that Mason has ultimately remained; failing to prove to Pochettino that he was the man deserving of a lead role in the club’s pursuit of a domestic league title.
Alli was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year for a standout debut season
As the race for the title unfurled, the lack of depth in the squad was continuing to be laid bare in the Europa League.
No match is a greater case in point than that one fateful night in Dortmund, where a much changed Tottenham lineup was comfortably brushed aside as the Bundesliga giants ran rings around the seemingly hapless duo of Mason and Tom Carroll – fading under the spotlight as they faced up to the imperious Yellow Wall.
Tottenham were swept aside by a rampant Borrusia Dortmund in the Europa League
End of the line?
Though I must profess to being an admirer of the player, it is the opinion of many that it might be time to draw a close on his time at Tottenham Hotspur.
And it’s hard to argue with. Having amassed just two goals and four assists over his 53 league games for the club, the quality of the player’s end product can be called into significant doubt.
His overall game play also pales in comparison to that of Mousa Dembélé, as signified by this Squawka Comparison Matrix.
Whilst I believe that Mason has more than enough ability to cut a distinguished top flight career in the Premier League, can it really be in lilywhite if Tottenham profess real aspirations of establishing themselves as a side towards the top of the division?
Though I feel Mason was unfairly scapegoated for the 5-1 defeat to already relegated Newcastle United on the final day by some corners of the Tottenham faithful, one suspects that Mauricio Pochettino’s summer plans to build a squad fit for the Champions League could well see the sun set on a 17 year relationship between the club and player.
Eddie Howe is purported to be an admirer of the central midfielder, a summer move to the south coast could be a wise career move for the Enfield lad and would add another dimension of quality to a Bournemouth side that impressed in their maiden Premier League campaign.
Though the boy may never prove to be a North London legend in the mould of Ardilles, Hoddle or Bale – I believe that a tip of the hate should still be made in appreciation for his long-held dedication to the Tottenham jersey.
Written by Joe Thomas
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