Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte believes Oliver Skipp has all the attributes required to become a “top midfielder” in the game.
The academy graduate had a breakthrough campaign out on loan at Norwich last season, during which time he helped guide the Canaries back to the Premier League, and since returning to north London, he has found a stable home in Spurs’ midfield.
In what has been an otherwise chaotic season for Spurs, having parted with summer appointment Nuno Espirito Santo after just five months in charge, Skipp has been a beacon of consistency in the middle of the park, continuing his form under Conte.
The 21-year-old has started and played the full 90 minutes in three of Tottenham’s four Premier League games under Conte, keeping a clean sheet in each of those matches. He was not present in the only fixture in which the club have conceded under the Italian in the English top flight so far, the 2-1 win over Leeds.
Skipp’s latest showing in the 3-0 win over his former club Norwich elicited high praise from his manager, who believes the young midfielder has what it takes to become one of the best in his position if he continues on his current career trajectory.
Conte said: “I think that the present and the future depends on him. If he wants to become a top midfielder, he could become a top midfielder, but he has to continue to work.
“He has this will, this desire to become an important player for Tottenham, for the present and for the future.”
Skipp himself has since responded to the praise bestowed upon him by a manager who has worked with some of the game’s best ever midfielders, not least Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Daniele De Rossi and N’Golo Kante.
“It is always nice to hear that, but I have to go out and prove it, otherwise it is just words and there is no point,” Skipp said.
“I feel that there has definitely been a lot of improvement. I need to keep working and keep doing the things that I am doing and keep making those improvements.
“Hopefully that happens, but I know that it is a lot of hard work before that happens.
“I hope this proves that it was the right decision to stay and I feel I am ready to play for Spurs.
“You are never quite sure at the start of the season, but it was a big confidence boost to start the first game of the season and it was something I was looking to build on and hopefully keep building on.
“I always wanted to fight for my place here and I am very grateful of the year I had last year at Norwich, but there are still a lot of improvements to be made.”