Harry Winks has recently been dominating the headlines for his breakthrough into the Tottenham squad, and for his recent international call-up to the England squad, making his full debut against Lithuania last week. Pundits were describing his performance as ‘eye-catching amongst a mediocre display’. This article will analyse how the Hemel Hempstead born youngster went from Spurs’ youth ranks to the highest international level in the space of a year.
Breaking into the First Team
Harry Winks made his Spurs debut aged 18, making his debut in November 2014 in the Europa League group against FK Partizan in a 1–0 home win at White Hart Lane, replacing Paulinho on the 87th minute. This would only be the start of Winks’ White Hart Lane career, making 2 more appearances the following season. This led to his breakthrough 16/17 season at Tottenham, where he made 21 appearances throughout, with his only goal coming when he made his first full Premier League appearance against West Ham, equalling the score. The Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate performed well, making 36 recoveries, 366 passes and winning 32 duels. The fans quickly warmed to the local lad, with him settling in comfortably in the centre midfield role, fulfilling the duties of sweeping up balls in front of centre-backs Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. He also spreads the play across the pitch with ease and also gets into attacking positions when needed.
As Winks looks to maintain a concrete position in his boyhood team, his competition couldn’t be any fiercer, with the likes of Moussa Dembele, Eric Dier, Moussa Sissoko, and Victor Wanyama all being proven first-team starters. He, therefore, must prove why he stands out between all the other potential starters. Whereas Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier are more defensive and picked for their vital interceptions and tackling techniques, Winks is more reliant on creativity and passing skills, similar to Dembele which may allow him to start more often. When you compare his performances to Moussa Dembele’s this season, you will see Winks only has one more appearance, yet Dembele has managed 4 shots against Winks’ 1, however, Harry has managed to create 2 big chances to Dembele’s 0, highlighting Harry Winks’ attacking threat. They both have the same amount of tackles, Dembele has 2 more interceptions than Harry Winks, however, less aerial battles won. As statistics show, Winks’ is comfortable impressing week by week in the first 11, being able to put on a good show when called upon by Pochettino. His age again shows how much time he has to grow and improve and having signed a long-term contract with the club, he will look to progress and consolidate a permanent role in the title challenging team.
After breaking into the Spurs first 11, a team who challenged for the Premier League title last year, new manager Gareth Southgate realised his positive influence in the team and handed Winks his first ever international call-up this month for the World Cup Qualifiers vs Slovenia and Lithuania. He didn’t feature in the 1-0 triumph over Slovenia, however, he started against Lithuania, showing promising passing skills, first touches and calm and controlled possession on the ball. Harry’s call-up may have also been influenced by the fact that he has played with all the international England youth teams, including 6 appearances for England under 17’s, 3 for England U18’s, 6 for U19’s, 8 appearances for U20’s and 2 more for U21’s. His progression through the hierarchy has proven to Southgate that he deserved his debut, and will look to be making, even more, caps for his club. With competition from the likes of teammate Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Jake Livermore, Jack Wilshere, and Danny Drinkwater, this spot will be equally as tough to maintain as he looks to claim a stake in Southgate’s highly anticipated 23-man squad in Russia 2018.
Winks will be looking to build on his experience, and gain some more game time in the Premier League and possibly Champions League to prove that he is ready to get on the plane to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He may use the advantage of Victor Wanyama being injured to possibly ‘steal’ his regular starting position and to further impress Spurs supporters and national fans alike.