If you haven’t yet, I suggest you first read Noah Davis’ piece on Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers over at Bleacher Report. It’s a good primer for Carter-Vickers’ career to this point, and how it is that he’s become the most exciting and seemingly pro-ready teenager yet to really get a chance at his club.
In any case, by now it’s beyond obvious that Carter-Vickers has a USMNT career ahead. In fact, it rankled most everyone who’s seen him play that he isn’t already cap-tied. For reasons beyond the pale, Jurgen Klinsmann did not sub Carter-Vickers on during the embarrassment in Costa Rica during qualifying last year that ultimately cost Klinsmann his job. The game well over in the last 10 minutes, Klinsmann had the opportunity to lock up Carter-Vickers amid speculation that England was hovering, and a throwaway sub stint that would’ve done the trick. He did not.
All indications seem to point to there being little worry about Carter-Vickers’ American future. But we’ve also heard that before.
More to the everyday matter at hand, though, is Carter-Vickers’ status at his home club, Tottenham. It’s where he spends the vast majority of his time, and it would seem he’s hit the club’s first team periphery at a fairly awkward time. At least for center backs. At the moment, Spurs is in a title sprint for the Premier League and boasts arguably the best center back pairing in the league in Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, the Low County Boys with World Cup experience among them both. Carter-Vickers has been lauded by Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino as having future PL success practically graven on his forehead, but unlocking the position won’t be easy.
I’ll even go a step further and say it’s impossible. So long as Vertonghen and Alderweireld exist as Spurs players, Carter-Vickers will never play. Not in games that matter, and not consistently barring injuries ahead of him.
This is why the 19-year-old Carter-Vickers needs a loan out for the 2017-18 season. And here’s why, specifically, Spurs both need not and should not sell him.
Earlier this week, Italian news-breaker and occasional rumor-monger Gianluca Di Marzio claimed that Alderweireld wanted out of his Spurs contract once it expired in favor of Inter Milan, which is under new ownership and reportedly has already made contact. In the report, Di Marzio also claimed Alderweireld planned on slamming down on the release clause as the mechanism to leave. The subtext Di Marzio doesn’t mention is that Alderweireld’s exit clause wouldn’t even be in play until the summer of 2019. Of course, Alderweireld could decide he wants to leave at any time and Spurs would essentially be forced to sell him, a reality visited upon clubs across Europe literally every week. And perhaps there is truth to the rumors that Alderweireld really does want Inter Milan. Or maybe not.
In any case, it doesn’t look as though the balance in the middle of the defense will change any time soon, at least not for the 2017-18 campaign. Which means it’s time for Carter-Vickers to throw off the bow lines and set sail for a new (temporary) home. He needs a loan.
Fittingly enough, Carter-Vickers’ own central defensive batterymate from the 2015 U20 World Cup is making good use of one right now. Matt Miazga was sold to Chelsea during the winter 2016 window, played a couple garbage games at the end of the season for the first team and then was sent out on loan for this season in the Netherlands at Vitesse. By all accounts Miazga’s made good use of his time there, and he’s developed into a regular starter and key contributor at the back. Whether or not Chelsea has first team plans for him (their reputation in this is dubious), Miazga’s done all he’s been asked to do, and he’s largely excelled.
One hopes Carter-Vickers follows a similar track through the woods next season. Assuming the Alderweireld-Vertonghen pairing is set in stone for at least the next season, and assuming that becomes a bit more untenable in the 2018-19 season, when Carter-Vickers will be turning a prime 21, the obvious thing for Carter-Vickers at the moment is a loan. At least for a season.
Spurs doesn’t have a continental loan funnel like Chelsea, and its current loanees run the gamut from League One Peterborough to French top tier club Marseille. Allowing that the English third tier is perhaps a bit below Carter-Vickers’ standards, it shouldn’t be particularly difficult to find him a first team home this summer where he can feature regularly.
Because it’s time he did. For the sake of his continued development, Carter-Vickers needs to play, and the 2017-18 season is the time to make it happen.