Tottenham's Anton Walkes: MLS loan at Atlanta has pushed me on
Tottenham loanee Anton Walkes has told Sky Sports that MLS is on an upward trajectory and that his spell at Atlanta United has helped prepare him for life in the Football League.
Walkes, 21, joined Portsmouth on loan in January after spending the 2017 MLS season on loan at expansion club Atlanta, where he scored twice in 23 appearances.
The defender, who can also play in midfield, made his Spurs debut in the EFL Cup win over Gillingham in September 2016 and said his loan in the U.S. has given him a taste of senior football.
"You're not used to playing in front of people in youth football," Walkes said. "Our home attendances were ridiculous. They recently broke the MLS record. That shows what direction the league is going in. When you are playing your home games in front of 70,000 people, it is always going to be something that's massive and it pushes you on."
After returning from Atlanta, Walkes returned to Tottenham's reserve team before going out on loan to Portsmouth.
"The football [at Portsmouth] has been challenging, of course, but it has not been too hard to adjust to the mentality here thanks to my experiences in Atlanta. I have settled in very quickly. That change in style going from youth football to men's football can be very different. The games have a lot more pressure on them. There is much more focus on the three points.
"In youth football, the victories don't matter as much as long as you have produced the better performance. In the real world, you would always take playing badly and getting the win. It is just about making sure that everything you do is about getting the best results. All the preparations through the week, all the little details, are geared towards the game."
At Atlanta, Walkes was coached by former Barcelona boss Tata Martino, a former Newell's Old Boys teammate of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.
"He knows his business," Walkes said. "This is a guy who has coached the world's best player in Leo Messi. You have to give double respect to someone like that."
Although Walkes' contract with Spurs expires at the end of next season, he said he is focused only the short term and helping Portsmouth to secure a League One playoff place.
"The long term cannot happen without the short term," he said. "I have to focus on what I am doing now. Hopefully, I can use this Portsmouth experience to make myself a better player.
"I want to push on and win something here. If we can make the playoffs then all the focus will be on promotion. Playing at Wembley was my dream as a kid and it is something I have visualised over and over again."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.