Who is Juan Foyth? Tottenham defender the future of Argentina with Icardi & Lautaro

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The 20-year-old remains a raw and impetuous talent but Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino believes the Argentine is destined for greatness

Wednesday night's Champions League meeting between Tottenham and Inter at Wembley should have been an opportunity for Juan Foyth to line out against fellow Argentines Mauro Icardi and Lautaro Martinez. 

Instead, the young defender was forced to watch from the sidelines because he had not been included in Spurs' Champions League squad for the 2018-19 group stage.

"That is so painful," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino admitted beforehand. "It's a mistake we made that at this level of football we cannot repeat again. We need to find a solution.

"It is painful to have a player like him off the list but we will finish [the group stage] soon and hope that in March we can do a new list and we can include him on it."

Essentially, Foyth's rapid progress this season even caught Tottenham by surprise. Injured at the time Pochettino was picking his Champions League squad, the 20-year-old was not expected to play a major role in the 2018-19 campaign.

However, he has now started Spurs' last three Premier League games, even netting the only goal in the 1-0 win at Crystal Palace to further endear himself to the north London club's supporters.

Foyth's emergence, though, is even generating excitement back home. Argentina's present may not be particularly impressive, but the nation's future still looks bright. 

Paulo Dybala stands out as a talent who can lead the Albiceleste to glory in the years to come, with Inter pair Icardi and Martinez also ideally placed to trouble goalkeepers across the world.

Now, all of the early evidence suggests that Foyth, while still a novice in the professional game, has the potential to become a key man in his country's defence in the coming years. 

Juan Foyth Argentina PS

Not that his form will come as much of a surprise. After all, Foyth was born and raised in hometown club Estudiantes of La Plata, a famed breeding ground for tough, uncompromising defenders. 

Ironically, it was a former Arsenal man, Nelson Vivas, who handed the teenager his debut in March 2017, and he quickly established a regular spot in the heart of the Pincha's defence as they claimed third place in that year's Primera Division standings behind Boca Juniors and River Plate.

Even with that promising start, which included appearances in the South American Under-20 Championship and Junior World Cup, it still came as rather a surprise when Tottenham signed him for £8 million ($10.2m) last year, as he only had nine professional games under his belt.

In his debut season, the youngster featured just twice in the Carabao Cup but a spate of injuries to the Tottenham backline gave him a chance to shine this term.

Foyth's Premier League bow was admittedly inauspicious. The defender gave away two penalties in a 3-2 victory over Wolves and displayed the kind of nervousness that suggested that the enormity of the occasion had got the better of him.

Juan Foyth Tottenham

Better was to come, however. Reacting instantly to a rebound following Harry Kane's header, Foyth converted past Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to score the winner in a tense derby at Selhurst Park.

It was the perfect response to his Wolves nightmare and capped a fine game alongside Toby Alderweireld in the Spurs defence, leaving his manager purring.

"He is an intelligent, smart player and he has the potential to be one of the best centre-backs in Europe," Pochettino enthused at the final whistle.

"Of course, he was very disappointed last week [against Wolves], he felt responsible but that's the job of the coaching staff to work with a player and we laughed about the situation. To improve, you have to make mistakes and that is going to help him.

"He has so much potential and only needs time and games to improve. He is a very good prospect for us."

Formerly a midfielder in the Estudiantes youth set-up prior to his conversion into a centre-half, that legacy shines through in Foyth's comfort on the ball. His distribution and timing on the pass is impeccable, making him the perfect fit for Spurs' possession-based game. 

He's not afraid to dribble out from the back either, as he showed with both Estudiantes and Argentina with a couple of hair-raising slaloms during his breakout season.

Juan Foyth Pochettino Tottenham PS

Foyth's talent has also caught the eye of those in charge of Argentina's national team, currently in a rebuilding process under Lionel Scaloni after the disaster that was the 2018 World Cup campaign.

Scaloni called Foyth to the national team in November for the first time, and a sterling showing in Cordoba as Argentina saw off Mexico 2-0 only confirmed his great potential. And he showed no sign of letting up on his return to London, keeping a world-class forward like Eden Hazard firmly under wraps as Spurs took a priceless victory against their neighbours last weekend.

If there is one criticism to be aimed at the youngster, it is that he needs to reel in his enthusiasm somewhat. Having conceded a pair of penalties in his Premier League debut, Foyth was extremely lucky not to give away another spot-kick on Saturday for a shove on Hazard in the Spurs box.

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But it is all part of the learning curve, and with time he will curb that anxiety and keep a cooler head when needed. For the present, he may have to be content with odd appearances deputising for Spurs' more experienced centre-backs.

Time, however, is on his side. With Toby Alderweireld widely tipped to leave north London at the end of the season, Foyth will continue to play ever bigger a part in Pochettino's plans, having overcome those initial wobbles to show his class at Premier League level.

From Argentina's perspective too, his emergence is more than welcome. Icardi and Martinez might score plenty of goals but the Albiceleste still need to stop them – and while it is still early to draw definitive conclusions, Foyth might just be the right man for the job.

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