Harry Winks picks the perfect time to remind Tottenham what he can do | Tottenham Hotspur

WWhen Antonio Conte took charge at Tottenham, the club’s fans expected the Italian to ignore any passengers on the squad. The past few years have been turbulent for the club and they have been in desperate need of rebuilding since the culmination of reaching the Champions League final in 2019 and shipping some dead wood to new pastures.

To their credit, Spurs at least took Moussa Sissoko, Joe Hart and Danny Rose out of the books in the summer, as Sissoko and Rose signed for Watford, and Hart moved north to Celtic. But those exits seemed like the start of a long-term project rather than a quick fix. When Conte arrived at the club last month, Matt Doherty, Dele Alli and Harry Winks must have wondered if their futures lay elsewhere.

That was before Tottenham’s clash with Liverpool on Sunday night. The 2-2 draw was the team’s first match in two weeks after the outbreak of Covid in the team, and Conte entered the match without choosing a midfield duo from Pierre-Emile Hojberg and Oliver Skipp. The Italian toyed with his favored system, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min leading the charge and Tanguy Ndombele joining the Dilly and Winks in the middle of the park.

This trio of midfielders could leave the club next month, but their performances against Liverpool will give Conte plenty of food for thought. Ndombele provided a great assist in Harry Kane’s opening match, and Dele could have had a goal and assist to his name, yet it was Winks who singled out Conte with post-match praise.

“Good performance, but I had no doubts about that,” Conte said after the match. “Harry Winks works hard. He impressed me in the training sessions for his commitment, will and desire. I think he is a really good player.” Considering it was the Winks’ third start in the league this season, he’s put in a great show all the action. Liverpool certainly have had their fair share of trouble in midfield, with Thiago, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson left out, but Winks deserves plenty of credit.

Winks were frozen by Nuno Espirito Santo earlier in the season. He only started one league game under Nuno and tended to use it when the manager rotated the European Conference League. Frustrated by his lack of opportunities, the 25-year-old admitted in October that he is considering his future. “I love Tottenham, but I want to play football on a regular basis,” Winks said. “The only way to play your best and get momentum is when you play regularly. I’m doing my best for the club. They stuck by my side, I want to play for Tottenham, but it’s tough when there are games here and there, confidence is low and you’re not going to get this series of matches.” “. When asked about the transfer in the January window, he said: “I have a lot of matches to try and fight for the club. There are still two months left and it’s about thinking and working as hard as possible and not having any regrets.”

Winks was an unused substitute in Conte’s first league game – a goalless draw with Everton – and it looked as if the move could be the best for him and the club. But he started in a 2-1 win over Leeds, came off the bench in a 2-0 win over Brentford and his display against Liverpool on Sunday was his best for Spurs in quite some time. It could be a turning point in his career.

One of the main criticisms of the Winks was his reluctance to push the ball forward. He has often preferred to play a safer side pass. But that was not the case against Liverpool at the weekend. No player at Tottenham has made more passes forward than Winks (24). Given that the plan was to absorb the pressure from Liverpool and then hit them on the counterattack, Spurs needed a player to get the ball quick and Winks played the role superbly. His passing success rate of 79.4% may seem lower than expected, but Spurs benefited from his decision to risk the ball. It was Winks’ pass that led to Son’s goal in the second half.

He was also involved in Tottenham’s first goal, recovering the ball from Naby Keita and starting the move that led to Harry Kane’s opening goal. Winks displayed his defensive work throughout the match, making more interceptions (four) than any other player on the field. In fact, he had more touches, made more passes, and made more interceptions and blocks than any of his teammates, while also covering more distance.

When Conte won the Serie A title last season, Marcelo Brozovic was at the heart of his midfield. Could the Winks be the equivalent of Spurs? The Croatian has often been used as Inter’s deepest false midfielder and has been an integral part of the club that won their first league title 11 years ago. With Simone Inzaghi now in charge, Brozovic once again plays a similar role and it’s no coincidence that Inter spends Christmas at the top of the Serie A schedule due to his influence both in and out of possession.

Conte might see Winks as a player who could do a similar job. It’s still early days, of course, and the Winks will have to maintain that form to impress his manager. But Sunday was off to a good start. Conte promised to do a full assessment of each player before deciding whether or not to move to him in January. The Winks gave him plenty to think about with a standout show against a weightlifter in Europe.

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