Is Harry Winks the answer to Tottenham's midfield dilemma?

Tottenham's Harry Winks

The midfielder has impressed in pre-season and looks set for a first-team role.

Tottenham manager Mauricio PochettinoTottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham moved swiftly this summer to sign Vincent Janssen and Victor Wanyama, remedying the two most glaring squad weaknesses in the process.

Now that Spurs have both a backup striker and defensive midfielder to call upon, Mauricio Pochettino will enjoy a far greater ability to rotate this season than he previously could.

There is now quality cover for every position except for the ‘Moussa Dembele’ role – or so it seemed until this week.

Tottenham's Harry WinksTottenham's Harry Winks

Over the space of 120 minutes, academy graduate Harry Winks has emerged as an unlikely candidate to provide an alternative to Tottenham’s enigmatic Belgian powerhouse.

The 20-year old was brought on at half-time in Tuesday’s 2-1 friendly defeat to Juventus and was among several youngsters who outshone their senior colleagues.

He built on that performance with another impressive showing three days later, this time from the start alongside Victor Wanyama against Atletico Madrid.

Juventus' Paulo Dybala in action with Tottenham's Will Miller and Ryan MasonJuventus' Paulo Dybala in action with Tottenham's Will Miller and Ryan Mason

Ryan Mason has been a shadow of the player he was in the 2014-15 campaign, after suffering a serious injury against Sunderland in the early stages of last season, and he doesn’t appear to have the necessary physical traits to succeed in a deep midfield role.

Tom Carroll is another who Pochettino has occasionally deployed in that position but he has featured more recently as one of the attacking three behind the striker and doesn’t appear to have much of a future at the club regardless.

Tottenham's Nabil BentalebTottenham's Nabil Bentaleb

Nabil Bentaleb - arguably the most technically gifted of the lot - wasn’t taken on the pre-season trip to Australia and has been informed that he is no longer in Pochettino's plans.

That leaves a certain Harry Winks. While similar in stature to Mason and Carroll, Winks plays with a tenacity and energy that neither of them can match.

He is tidy in possession, has a surprising turn of pace and speeds up Tottenham’s game with his vertical passing.

Tottenham's Harry Winks comes on as a substitute for Eric DierTottenham's Harry Winks comes on as a substitute for Eric Dier

He is more physical than Carroll and more direct than Mason and his tender age suggests there is plenty of room for growth.

Spurs are at the stage in their development where it is difficult to improve the first-team without spending upwards of £30 million and it is often a challenge to recruit players who know they will be playing second fiddle to someone else.

Mousa Dembele is a unique talent and Spurs will not be able to find a like-for-like replacement for him.

There are plenty of quality central midfielders who would improve the squad – Youri Tielemans is one such example who has recently been linked – but there is no telling how well they would settle or how they would affect squad harmony if they are not in the team.

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Winks during trainingTottenham Hotspur's Harry Winks during training

Pochettino has brought Tottenham to where they are now by creating a cohesive unit where every individual knows their role and is pulling in the same direction.

The temptation in the modern game is typically to throw money at a problem but in Harry Winks, Spurs may have just found an internal solution to their last remaining dilemma.

Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch