Harry Winks is the future of Tottenham Hotspur’s midfield.
The England international produced another display oozing with class and patience against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Round of 16 as Mauricio Pochettino’s men won the first leg 3-0 and placed one foot firmly in the quarter-finals.
Of course, the plaudits will all go to Jan Vertonghen for his display on a glory glory night for Spurs.
Deployed at left wing-back, Vertonghen rampaged down the flank, provided a sublime assist for Son Heung-Min’s opening goal and scored the second himself. It was, perhaps, the best performance of his career.
Fernando Llorente added a third from a Christian Eriksen corner but the contribution of Winks should not go unnoticed.
Long heralded as a star of the future, Winks appears to have come of age before our eyes and he is still only 23.
He has been involved in all six of Spurs’ Champions League games so far this season – playing 90 minutes against Barcelona at Wembley and 83 in the Camp Nou – while he has also played 23 times in the Premier League. He has come to embody Pochettino’s ethos of promoting from within and he is a player around which Spurs can build a team.
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Against Dortmund, he was a study in quiet effectiveness.
Per WhoScored, Winks touched the ball a total of 88 times and played 72 total passes, with a completion rate of 93%. He completed the one dribble he attempted and made four tackles, the joint-most of any player on the pitch along with midfield partner Moussa Sissoko, defender Davinson Sanchez and Dortmund left-back Abdou Diallo.
Winks also made two interceptions and generally kept his side ticking over. There is an art to recycling possession, to take the ball in and keep it moving, and every elite team needs a metronomic presence in the middle of the park.
Against Dortmund, Winks proved he is exactly that.
Winks has a remarkably high ceiling.
Spurs fans who have watched him all season are well aware of the qualities he possesses. Winks has an exceptional eye for a pass, as well as a superb range of passing. He is clean and efficient in the tackle and, while he sometimes loses the ball, he more often than not wins it back.
There is a tenacious, dogged edge to some of his midfield work but it never compromises his team-mates and he is regularly there at the sharp end, probing, looking to unlock a defence.
There has not been a player like this at Spurs in quite some time. Since the departure of Luka Modric, Spurs have been looking for a player who can make them tick, quietly going about their business in a fashion that would be sorely missed if they were ever withdrawn from the XI.
Winks is that man. He may not be on the level of Modric – the Croatian, after all, inspired his country to the World Cup final and won the Ballon d’Or this year – but the 5 foot 10 midfielder is cut from the same playmaking cloth.
The England international’s future is very bright indeed. So, too, is that of Spurs’ midfield.