Forget Sarr: Spurs’ 62-touch talent will have “caught the eye” of Conte vs Portsmouth – opinion

Tottenham Hotspur just about scraped through their third round FA Cup meeting against Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon as Harry Kane‘s 50th-minute strike ultimately proved the difference between Spurs and the League One outfit at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with the Premier League club running out 1-0 winners.

However, while Antonio Conte will undoubtedly be pleased with his team’s progression to the next round of the competition, the performance of a number of Spurs’ lesser-seen first-teamers may just be the 53-year-old’s biggest takeaway from the cup clash, with Davinson Sanchez, Pape Matar Sarr and Bryan Gil all impressing on the day.

Indeed, having only been handed two starts by Conte in 2022/23 prior to the Portsmouth game, it was arguably Gil’s display which will have most caught the Italian’s eye on Saturday, with the 21-year-old showing flashes of why Tottenham paid Sevilla £21.6m to bring the winger to the club in the summer of 2021.

Over his 89 minutes on the pitch, the £18m-rated talent was a near-constant threat to the Pompey backline, creating one big chance, enjoying 62 touches of the ball and completing one of his two attempted dribbles, in addition to playing one key pass, attempting two crosses and completing 41 of his 46 passes (89% success rate).

The £40k-per-week attacker also won four of his nine duels, made one tackle and drew two fouls, proving that despite his 5 foot 9 frame, the Spain U21 international is more than capable of holding his own against a tough League One outfit.

These metrics saw the winger earn an impressive Sofascore match rating of 6.8, while Evening Standard journalist Dan Kilpatrick also awarded Gil a seven in his own player ratings, stating of the winger’s performance: “A number of lively moments in another eye-catching display.”

Spurs’ attacking injury list appears to grow longer by the day, with Dejan Kulusevski, Richarlison and Lucas Moura all currently sidelined. Therefore, should the Portsmouth fixture have been a test that Conte put in front of the 21-year-old, it is one that the Spaniard passed with flying colours, as Gil very much “caught the eye” – in the words of Tom Barclay – on Saturday afternoon.