Under the spotlight: Peterborough United’s finishing school

Few EFL clubs are better at polishing rough diamonds than Peterborough United.

The Posh run an exemplary recruitment programme, overseen by veteran director of football Barry Fry — picking up lower-league talents and developing their game, before selling them on for significant profit.

Peterborough’s finishing school has an impressive list of graduates. 

Though he didn’t sign directly from a club lower down the pyramid, Ivan Toney is perhaps the most notable — joining Brentford for an initial fee of around £5million (plus a reported £5million in add-ons), having arrived at London Road for a fraction of that amount from Newcastle United’s reserves.

Dwight Gayle, Britt Assombalonga, Ryan Bennett, Jack Marriott, Conor Washington and Siriki Dembélé have all also departed for over £2million each, across the last decade.

So, who is next off Peterborough’s production line? We have used Twenty3’s Toolbox to find out…

Ronnie Edwards

Ronnie Edwards’ sale will almost certainly eclipse any previous fee that Peterborough have received.

The 20-year-old centre-back has enjoyed a meteoric rise since joining from Barnet in 2020 — becoming a mainstay in the first team and an England Under 20 international. He will join up with Ian Foster’s squad for the FIFA Under 20 World Cup following the League One play-offs.

With reported interest from Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Crystal Palace, Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony has slapped a £20million price tag on the club’s No.4 and it’s not hard to see why. 

Edwards’ impressive passing game is his strongest attribute. Only three centre-backs in the third tier can better his passing accuracy (88.92%) and passes completed per 90 minutes (46.78).

It would be easy to rack up those numbers with a high volume of short, safe passes, but that isn’t the case with Edwards, who is constantly looking to get the ball forward to team-mates in dangerous positions — completing a commendable 3.25 of 5.9 long passes attempted per 90.

Always keen to show for the ball (he has received 35.2 passes per 90, seventh among League One centre-backs) and notably careful in possession, the Harlow native is the archetypal modern defender.

Though he will need to develop his aerial ability and the combative side to his game, expect Edwards to make a big move to the Premier League this summer.

Jack Taylor

Peterborough enjoy shopping at Barnet — Jack Taylor is the second of three players on this list to have swapped North London for Cambridgeshire in recent years.

A £500,000 arrival (with an additional £500,000 in clauses) in 2020, the 24-year-old possesses a remarkable combination of dynamism, pinpoint passing and an eye for the spectacular.

This is Taylor’s third full campaign at London Road, and he has really started to fulfil his potential in recent months. The playmaker has scored ten times in all competitions this term, six of which have come since mid-February.

Taylor will pounce on any errors from opposition rearguards, making 0.86 dangerous ball recoveries per 90 in 2022/23 (eighth in League One). When in possession he is incisive, attempting 1.69 through-balls and 0.82 intelligent passes per 90, both of which are in the division’s top 15 players.

There was reported interest in the 6ft 1in midfielder from Ipswich Town in January, but his recent performances could see a higher-profile club make an approach in the coming months.

Kwame Poku

Kwame Poku is yet another example of Peterborough’s smart lower-league recruitment, having joined from Colchester United after a long pursuit.

“I am really excited about this signing,” said Posh manager Darren Ferguson, in August 2021. “He is a young player I have watched for the last 18 months. We enquired about him last season and we have continued to monitor his progress.”

Peterborough’s determination to sign Poku looks to be paying off. The 21-year-old winger has amassed eight assists this season, at a rate of 0.27 per 90 — inside the division’s top ten.

He is sensational with the ball at his feet, completing an eye-catching 3.55 dribbles and making 3.35 progressive runs per 90. The Ghana international is adept at battling for possession too, having won 5.8 attacking duels per 90 (tenth in League One).

With age on his side and plenty of room for development, Peterborough will have high hopes that Poku can be sold on for a sizeable fee in the future.

Ricky-Jade Jones

It has been a memorable few seasons for academy graduate Ricky-Jade Jones.

The 20-year-old used to be a ball boy at London Road, now he is one of the Posh’s hottest prospects.

Though Jones, who can operate as a winger or a striker, has only featured for 1073 league minutes this campaign, his numbers suggest that there is plenty more to come from him in the years ahead.

For starters, he is inside the third tier’s top 10 players for completed dribbles per 90 (3.94) and ranks 11th for touches inside the box (4.11 per 90).

Neither of those statistics should be surprising — Jones is a marauding presence with the ball at his feet, registering an impressive 1.51 accelerations per 90.

Peterborough’s No.17 takes a high volume of shots, at an average of 2.52 per match. If he can increase his accuracy in the final third, the speed merchant should improve on this season’s three league goals next term.

Ephron Mason-Clark

Ephron Mason-Clark has taken to League One like a duck to water.

The winger started this season in the National League with Barnet, so a period of adaptation wouldn’t have been unreasonable. But he has surpassed expectations by performing a starring role in Peterborough’s first team.

Ultimately, the numbers speak for themselves.

Nine goals and seven assists is a solid return from 40 league matches, while the 23-year-old has been a constant menace in wide areas.

A record of 1.37 completed crosses and 3.66 completed dribbles per 90 both fall inside the division’s top 20 players, with his 5.86 attacking duels won only bettered by eight players.

Mason-Clark may end up being with the Posh for a good time, rather than a long time — Birmingham City are reportedly interested in acquiring his services this summer.

All visualisations in this article were produced using the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.