For many Tottenham Hotspur fans, a big part of what made the Mauricio Pochettino era so fun was the young domestic talent around the team. The likes of Eric Dier, Harry Kane, and eventually Harry Winks added a really likeable tone to the whole team. Others enjoyed the same success, too; players like Danny Rose and latterly players like Ben Davies all managed to win the hearts of fans for a while. However, as the Poch era came to an end, so too did the thriving of many of these domestic talents.
Few players suffered under Jose Mourinho quite like Harry Winks did. The young midfielder was once regarded as an exciting young playmaker; calm on the ball, technically crisp, and a hard worker to boot. However, it would be fair to say that ‘post-Poch’ Winks has not been anything like as fun to watch as the original edition. So, with that in mind, it comes as no surprise that most expect Winks to move on this summer.
The 26-year-old originally found some form with the uplift that Antonio Conte brought to the squad. That quickly dissipated, though, and the player has struggled to get back into the starting XI since that first dip in form. Having found himself out of favour with both Jose Mourinho and then Nuno Espirito Santo, no coach has really given Winks the time and the favour that Pochettino did.
It is expected that the academy graduate will leave this summer, which poses an intriguing problem for Conte and co.
Can Spurs find enough domestic talent to fill squad gaps?
If Spurs go into Europe next year as looks likely, they need to have set criteria in the squad for academy players and domestic players. Winks is one of the few in the current squad who makes this up; while the likes of Oliver Skipp could soon come back into the reckoning next year, Winks is a key part of that 8-man domestically trained shortlist that clubs need.
Losing Winks posse an interesting challenge. Do Spurs shop in the UK and find an academy-bred or domestically-coached replacement, even if the player would likely face the same fate as Winks?
Or do they buy the player that Conte would want, knowing that it is very likely to bring some headaches in terms of squad composition. UEFA regulations demand that teams have a certain number of players from their academy and from the wider nation; losing Winks shortens that list of available options. Buying a foreign option would likely mean having to play with a smaller squad in Europe than the 25 players who can be registered.
Despite the fact that Winks is barely in the team and to be fair has shown very little at times in recent seasons, that academy status was a key factor in his favour. That looks to be over now, though, with the club willing to move him on – how they replace him, though, will be very interesting to see for all.