Ninad Barbadikar provides a detailed scout report about Harry Winks, Tottenham’s midfield maestro in the making.
When Luka Modric left for Real Madrid in the summer of 2012, there were many doubts as to who would lead this young and talented Spurs team, who would be their creative spark? Enter Gareth Bale. The Welshman had a Premier League campaign to remember in his final season at White Hart Lane, scoring 26 goals in all competitions, a career best for the pacy former Saints player. It was inevitable that the big clubs would come calling and so Bale took the opportunity and joined Real Madrid in 2013, and has been a success at the Santiago Bernabeu ever since.
However, since Modric’s departure, Tottenham have always seemed to lack a composed playmaker in the middle of the park, someone who the rest of the attackers and defenders could always count on in tough situations. The signings of Mousa Dembele, Victor Wanyama, Christian Eriksen, Delle Alii have all turned out to be fruitful, but there is one man who is making all the right noises and steadily made an impression to the Spurs fans this season, Harry Winks.
Tottenham’s 4-2 loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi-final may have ended their dream of winning a trophy at Wembley once again, however, Mauricio Pocchettino can be proud of his youngsters’ display throughout the FA Cup campaign, in which Winks played a starring role.
Who is Harry Winks?
Born in East England, in the town of Hemel Hampstead in Hertfordshire, Winks worked his way up the ranks at Tottenham, playing for all the age group teams.
In that time, Winks also managed to make a name for himself by playing in the England youth teams, playing for the U17s,18s,19s,20s and most recently the talented U21 side as well.
Winks is now realising a life-long dream as he plays for Tottenham, he began training with the first team squad back in the 2013-14 season but didn’t see much game time in that period. Cup competitions have been a hidden blessing for Winks, he made his debut in the UEFA Europa League game against FK Partizan in the 2013-14 season.
There is a great amount of trust in Winks from Pochettino’s side, he didn’t allow the youngster to go out on loan and get the game time he so desperately wanted. The Argentine thought that it was better that Winks stuck around and learnt more, he believed having a player of his quality could always be useful. And so, to that end, Winks signed a new contract with the club in 2015 and has since then signed another two contracts, keeping him at the club till 2022 at the very least.
This season has seen Winks get a lot more game time than before, making 31 appearances in all competitions and impressing fans and neutrals alike with his style of play and his contributions to the team’s cause.
What is his Style of Play?
Winks is primarily a central midfielder, who is comfortable in playing in front of the defence or further forward as well.
Not unlike Modric, Winks is a very comfortable passer of the ball and likes to dictate play from the middle of the park.
Winks likes to drop deep to link up with the defence and strides forward with intelligent movements to pick out the right pass. Winks has been such a good passer of the ball this season, the statistics tell us that his pass completion rate has been better than Spurs’ two first choice central midfielders, Dembele and Wanyama.
Due to Winks’ smaller size, he is able to escape the press of his opponents, much like Modric did, during his time at White Hart Lane, such a quality is very vital in modern day football as the game gets quicker and quicker. Teams are always in need of calm passers of the ball who can dictate the game, it seems as though Winks is on his way to becoming the next Modric or the new Harry Winks at Spurs.
What are his Strengths?
As mentioned earlier, Winks is an excellent passer of the ball and a clever dribbler as well. His physique and style of play allow him to play almost anywhere in midfield for Pochettino’s side.
Aside from passing the ball, Winks also has a goal or two in him from time to time. He showed that skill against West Ham in November when Spurs ran out winners in the game that ended 3-2.
We can see from the above image just how many touches Winks had throughout the game against the Hammers. Not just the number of touches but the variety of positions he picked up the ball in was impressive as well. Another important statistic to point out is that, in the game against West Ham, Winks had more forward passes than any other Spurs player and his heat map was all over the West Ham final third, just shows how valuable a player he can be in the future for Spurs.
Winks has had great success in pass completion this season, completing 91% of his passes (according to Squawka) and winning more than half his duels with opposition defenders, 52% of those, to be precise, which tells you a lot about how the Spurs man uses his abilities to get the better of his opponents.
||Passes per 90 mins
(As of March 6, 2017 | Credit : Sky Sports)
His incisive movements are hard to catch for opposing defenders and his excellent yet efficient passing is even harder to intercept. Winks’ commitment to passing the ball forward is a very vital quality to have while recycling the ball.
What are his Weaknesses?
The only thing you could probably hold against Winks is his physical stature, he stands at 178 cm in height and is quite thin. This is understandably an issue for Winks sometimes as he isn’t able to dominate against the bigger opponents who come up against him.
Other than his physique, Winks’ unselfish nature means that he doesn’t get into goal-scoring positions and doesn’t score as often as he could, he certainly has someone to look up to in Dele Alli who has been in scintillating form this year for the Lily Whites.
Winks has a great future ahead of him and although the 21-year-old is sidelined with injury at the time of writing, there is little doubt that Spurs have a gem in midfield for years to come, in Harry Winks.
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Ninad is an aspiring football writer from India. He writes for various sites online including VAVEL UK, Offside Football, and From The Stands.
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