Cartilage Free Captain is again reviewing and ranking the top 15 youth prospects at Tottenham Hotspur to see which players have the best potential to follow players like Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, and Nabil Bentaleb into the Tottenham first team. The rules for inclusion are as follows:
- The player had to be 21 or under on January 1, 2015
- The player cannot have seen significant match time with Tottenham's first team
Next on our list is 19 year old midfielder Harry Winks.
Who is he?
Harry Winks, born in Hemel Hempstead, officially joined the Tottenham academy in July of 2012 after years of training with the club.
Since officially joining, he has been a fixture in Spurs Under-18 (U-18), U-21, and FA Youth Cup squads. He even made his first team debut at White Hart Lane against Partizan Belgrade last fall. In addition to his club appearances, Winks has been capped by England at the U-17, U-18, and U-19 levels.
What can he do?
In his own words, the young midfielder is "generally a tidy, technical midfielder that likes to keep the ball and create chances". This is as plain a description as a midfielder can give, but we do know that Winks likes to get on the ball, link play, and get involved in the final third when presented the chance. He has shown the ability to grab a goal from time to time in the youth ranks which is an added bonus.
That he was one of the first names on the U-21 Premier League team sheet, often trained with the first team, and featured prominently on Spurs' end of season tour of Asia as an 18/19 year old speaks to the level of his quality. While there is reason to be excited about his bright performances on tour, I would caution against putting too much stock in post-season friendlies.
Where can he go?
This is the million dollar question.
Winks himself has stated his desire to be with Spurs next year and there is recent precedent for players breaking into the first team without any senior league experience. As honorable as that mentality is, we may not know Winks' short term future until the transfer window is sorted; and honestly, it is difficult to see the young midfielder garnering significant playing time with the first team unless he blows Ryan Mason and Dele Alli out of the water during preseason.
Reports have the young Englishman signing an extension with Tottenham so it is clear the club rates him. There have also been reports of Rangers kicking the tires on his availability for loan. Hopefully, he can find playing time at a level a bit higher than the Scottish second division, but the young man needs senior football of some sort if his progress is to continue on the fast track.
Harry Winks is a quintessential mid-level prospect at this point. We think he is good--really good in fact. What we don't know, however, is how his ability to control and influence matches translates to a longer season against more rigorous competition. The upcoming season is crucial to his development and should be of the utmost interest. If he converts some of the unknowns about his game into knowns, he is a player that could outperform his current rank.