Nowadays, one-club men are a rare commodity, with Spurs in the unusual position of having two in the squad; both named Harry. One has reached unprecedented heights, and the other splits opinions amongst fans, however, both could still have a role to play next season.
Admittedly, Harry Winks hasn’t enjoyed the finest of seasons, largely cameoing in substitute appearances under Antonio Conte since November (Transfermarkt), but the Englishman could yet be a survivor of this summer’s anticipated rebuild.
Spurs are arguably thin in central midfielders, with only Rodrigo Bentancur, Pierre-Emile Hoijberg, Oliver Skipp and Winks as the senior options in the squad, however now have the bonus of Yves Bissouma within their ranks.
However, with Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy N’dombele, and Pape Mate Sarr returning from loans and emerging academy prospects like Alife Devine and Harvey White, there is ample depth if wanted, but knowing Antonio Conte, the latter names are unlikely to feature next season.
So where is Winks in the pecking order?
Bissouma, Bentancur, Skipp, and Hoijberg are unquestionably above Winks, presumably alongside any potential new additions, but currently, the Englishman is next in line.
Conte clearly doesn’t rate Lo Celso or N’dombele, and will look to rehome both players this summer; whilst blooding young talent isn’t his forte, so loan moves for Sarr, Devine, and White would make sense to further their development.
At present, Winks occupies the absolute middle ground; he isn’t good enough to be a starter, but not as unfavourable an option Lo Celso and N’dombele.
Having been an active part of each iteration of Spurs since 2016/17, by now, fans are well aware of Winks’ skillset, which in truth is what makes his continued involvement so controversial amongst supporters.
Winks’ 6.71 progressive passes per game are the best of our current midfield contingent, seeing him rank in the top 2% of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues, however as suggested by a poor rate of progressive passes received, the Englishman often operates from deep hence his underwhelming output of goals and assists (FB Ref).
Too often, he looks uninspired on the ball, opting for sideways passes with little in terms of creativity or cutting edge.
Whilst frustrating for fans, this predictability may earn him favour with Conte as he represents a pragmatic, relatively safe chosen by many of the Italian’s predecessors.
Aside from when Nuno Espirito Santos sat in the dugout, Winks featured regularly under his other Tottenham managers, fitting the mould as an ideal squad player and even as a starter under some.
If nothing else, this attests to his character as a model pro, as despite stints out with the starting Xi, Winks is always ready and accepting in whatever capacity he is needed.
Throughout his time in the first team, he has played 128 times in the Premier League, as well as appearing in 31 domestic cup ties and 43 times in Europe, and was a mainstay in our run to the 2018/19 Champions League final.
As we compete on four fronts next season, his experience could be key, as with several new faces expected to arrive, players such as Winks who are familiar with the club and well-versed in all competitions could prove useful both on and off the field.
Furthermore, as an academy player, the Englishman helps to fill our homegrown quota which granted isn’t a major issue with Spurs, but is still a point in his favour.
At 26, Winks is at somewhat of a crossroads in his career, as he needs to decide what his priorities are in the midst of a busy summer.
There is no guarantee of games next season, and if more than one midfielder arrives at N17 this summer, Winks could easily be forced out, as at that point he would surely be surplus to requirements.
However, with his performances last season and current stature at Spurs, it’s hard to think of an obvious suitor for Winks, particularly outside the Premier League.
Moreover, a bi-product of last season’s performances will have seen his stock fall, so considering he would be unlikely to command a large fee, it may be worth holding onto the Englishman.
Having said that, if Winks himself decides he wants out, Conte is unlikely to stand in his way, as it’s clear while the Italian trusts him, he isn’t one of his must-have players.
Whatever transpires for Winks this summer, he has unquestionably been a loyal servant to Spurs during his time at the club, and alongside Harry Kane, acts as an example to academy players that there is a route to the first team.
His Spurs career thus far is certainly marked with highs and lows, and although it seems as though under Conte we are a side in transition this summer, there may still be room for Winks in next season’s squad.
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