IAN LADYMAN: Why the other Harry must ask to leave Spurs too… Winks was once compared to Xavi and Iniesta by Mauricio Pochettino but Jose Mourinho destroyed his confidence and he needs a fresh start
- Harry Winks has found himself out of favour at Tottenham this season
- The 25-year-old has made just three appearances in the league this season
- Winks, who has four England caps, is also out of Gareth Southgate’s plans
At most football clubs where there has been dysfunction and a quick turnaround of managers, there is usually a player who particularly suffers. At Tottenham that player is Harry Winks.
Remember him? One of the young starlets of Mauricio Pochettino’s time at the club, Winks was once described by the former Spurs manager as similar in style to the Spain duo Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Pochettino was not suggesting Winks had quite that sublime level of talent, merely that he had the ability to turn defence into attack quickly.
Harry Winks needs a new lease of life after being continually left out of the Tottenham team
Gareth Southgate thought so, too, and said so as Winks briefly became a central part of his thinking in midfield. Winks has 10 England caps.
But Southgate — like most international managers — is usually reluctant to pick players who are not playing for their clubs, so as Winks’ career at Tottenham has fallen off a cliff, so his England opportunities have dwindled.
At Tottenham, it was thought that Winks’ problem was purely Jose Mourinho-related. Pochettino’s successor is said not only to have left Winks out of his team, but to have verbally criticised him to such a degree that one source remarked recently that the 25-year-old had been ‘completely destroyed’.
If that was the case, Winks has not yet recovered as he is currently not playing for Nuno Espirito Santo, either.
His lack of minutes also means his England prospects under Gareth Southgate have dwindled
Winks has made just three Premier League appearances this season. Two were as 89th-minute substitutes, the other as a starter in a 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace. He was an unused substitute yesterday.
Winks was taken off after an hour and has not been seen since that game on September 11. It is always easy to blame a manager. Nuno — like Mourinho — prefers his two holding players to be physically imposing.
This is why Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele are routinely preferred.
Winks, a much slighter player, sees himself as best deployed in that position but has been encouraged by some to change his outlook and try to play further up the field.
In a recent training match against Millwall during the international break, Winks did this and was, by all accounts, impressive. Nevertheless, it is understood that he continues to prefer a deeper position.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele are just two of the midfielders preferred to Winks
What is clear now is that something must give. Winks is 26 in February and the dynamic at Tottenham has changed.
Nuno — not hugely impressive so far at Spurs — was essentially hired by the new and powerful director of football Fabio Paratici and as such he is unlikely to be going anywhere any time soon.
So the onus is on Winks to make something happen and it looks now as though a move away from Tottenham is by far the best option.
Winks resisted this temptation in the summer but should probably no longer do so.
He would fit nicely into a squad like Liverpool’s but that is something that Tottenham owner Daniel Levy would never allow to happen, so his best option may yet be found abroad or further down the Premier League food chain.
Winks feels an emotional attachment to Spurs, but he must now ask to leave the club
Winks came through the system at Spurs and feels emotionally attached to the club but it feels now as though this is a link he must break. He must ask to go.
Having not played for England for almost a year, he missed out on the summer’s Euros and other players such as West Ham’s Declan Rice, Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips and Mason Mount of Chelsea have moved ahead of him.
Winks was part of the Spurs team who beat Leicester 4-2 on the final day of last season, and Southgate was subsequently told how well he had played.
The national coach replied that nobody gets forgotten. That’s as may be, but such assurances rarely last for ever.