While Leeds United’s dramatic 3-2 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers last week has somewhat eased the Whites’ immediate relegation concerns, Jesse Marsch will still very much be aware his side are involved in a fight for survival over their final eight fixtures of the Premier League campaign.
Indeed, with Leeds currently sitting seven points above 18th placed Watford – who have a game in hand on the Whites – and eight points above 19th placed Burnley – who have three games in hand – statistics website FiveThirtyEight currently estimate that Marsch’s outfit have a 23% chance of going down this season – meaning there is just under a one in four chance Leeds will be playing Championship football in 2022/23.
And, while Leeds’ considerably poorer league performance than in 2020/21 can largely be attributed to a number of key players picking up long-term injuries – most notably Kalvin Phillips – Leeds Live journalist Beren Cross recently revealed that, despite a distinct lack of options in central midfield, Marcelo Bielsa turned down the opportunity to sign Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Winks in the January transfer window – a decision which could end up costing the club very close to £100m in Premier League revenue.
While Winks is far from a guaranteed starter under Antonio Conte at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – something that is presumably the reason the midfielder was offered to Leeds this winter – the argument that the 26-year-old would have made an impressive addition to the Whites’ current options in the middle of the park is an easy one to make.
Indeed, despite his bit-part role at Spurs this season, the £15.3m-rated England international has nevertheless turned in a decent level of performance over his 14 Premier League appearances, registering one assist and creating three big chances for his teammates, as well as making an average of 0.9 key passes, 1.1 interceptions, 0.9 tackles, 37.1 passes and winning 51% duels per game.
These returns have seen the £91k-per-week dynamo who Mauricio Pochettino once backed to become England’s Andres Iniesta average a SofaScore match rating of 6.96, ranking him as Tottenham’s 11th-best performer in the top flight of English football.
However, aside from his impressive metrics, Winks’ style of play would also have appeared to suit Leeds perfectly, with Paul Robinson previously suggesting the 26-year-old would be a fantastic alternative to Phillips, stating:
“One player I would love to see at Leeds in the Kalvin Phillips role is Harry Winks. He’s not been given his opportunity at Spurs, I think he is a fantastic player. Not only can he do the Phillips role, but he can also play in midfield as well.
“Someone with Winks’ quality would really add something to that Leeds side. He is able to play more advanced but can do the Phillips role when he’s not available. I would love to see Winks at Elland Road.”
As such, considering the fact that, at the time of being offered Winks in January, Phillips was very much in the early stages of his recovery from a serious hamstring injury, while Leeds were also in an extremely poor run of form, exactly why Bielsa chose not to sign the Tottenham midfielder on a short-term deal is rather baffling.
Indeed, if Leeds do happen to go down this season, fingers can very much be pointed at the Argentine passing up the opportunity to sign Winks – as the 66-year-old could very easily have cost his former side big-time.