Seen as the long-term replacement for the outstanding Mousa Dembele, Harry Winks is yet another product of the Tottenham Hotspur youth setup that is clearly ready to play at Premier League level.
While not as hyped as the likes of Marcus Edwards, Winks is definitely a promising youngster who already appears preferred to starlet Josh Onomah.
With Premier League minutes already this season, he has demonstrated an outstanding football brain with an understanding of the game beyond his years; his assist for Dele Alli’s goal against Everton demonstrated quick-thinking and an eye for a pass.
Within the current system, Winks is imperative during the transition phases of the game, linking defence to attack.
While Mousa Dembele can be considered the finished article in this regard – picking the ball up from deep, before moving the ball quickly or beating a man to create space – Winks has performed effectively as his understudy, albeit more in the playstyle of a certain Luka Modric – a deeper lying playmaker.
Winks uses his extensive range of passing to create play, and to link not just the defence to attack, but also play from either side. Like Dembele, the young Englishman rarely loses the ball and is a very tidy player who manager Mauricio Pochettino clearly trusts to influence the game.
At the minute, however, Winks’ game time is limited due to the stellar performances of not just Mousa Dembele, but also that of summer signing Victor Wanyama, who has proved immense value for his £11 million move from Southampton. However, with Dembele aging – the Belgian is 29 years old, making him one of the oldest players in the starting XI – and with knee injuries frequent, Winks’ role will only become more important as he develops.
Winks could easily occupy the midfield roles against lesser Premier League sides, especially at White Hart Lane where teams will sit deep and Spurs will have to break them down. His creative abilities should not be ignored by Mauricio Pochettino, as he is often able to find gaps with his passing that the likes of Dembele and Wanyama can’t force open with brute strength.
This would also serve to give Dembele a rest to prevent further injuries. The Belgian is certainly one of Spurs’ best players but his proneness to injuries is something that must be accounted for. Moreover, the presence of Winks also means that Dembele only has to play 60 minutes a game – again reducing the chances of injury – as the 21-year-old midfielder’s versatility and playstyle allows him to slot into the system without reducing its effectiveness.
In terms of his role, Winks is – at the minute – a squad player. He is used mainly in cup competitions and isn’t first choice, but this is to be expected – he is, after all, just 21. In time, it would surprise nobody to see Winks become first-choice at White Hart Lane, especially 4-5 years down the line, when Spurs enter their new stadium.
Luka Modric, the former Spurs player, who Winks is most similar to, has had a stellar career after leaving White Hart Lane and is widely regarded as the best deep-lying playmaker in the world. The Croatian is a player that Winks should base his game on; he looks to be essential to the Spurs system moving forwards and provides strength in depth that other teams can’t match; Winks would start in a majority of other Premier League sides.
He’s also a signal that the Spurs academy is producing players that are ready to play at Premier League level, which gives hope to other players currently in the academy, like Kaziah Sterling, and the aforementioned Marcus Edwards. The future at Spurs certainly looks very bright, with youngsters, not only in the academy, with bright futures, but indeed, some that have already made it. Harry Kane and Dele Alli personify the modern day Spurs, and long may this continue.