Mauricio Pochettino has likened the potential impact Harry Winks could make at Tottenham and England to that of Barcelona and Spain legends Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
The midfielder first injured his ankle towards the end of the 2016/17 season. Upon his return, Winks impressed in Champions League games against Real Madrid, but was soon on the treatment table again.
Specialists and surgery followed and Winks is now in the the final stages of his recovery.
And Pochettino, who used to manage Barcelona’s local rivals, Espanyol, has tipped Winks to replicate the influence of Iniesta and Xavi for club and country.
“Harry has the profile of the perfect midfield player,” Pochettino said (via the London Evening Standard).
“His characteristics are perfect. When we talk about midfielders like [Spain greats] Xavi and Iniesta, he’s like this type of player. He has this capacity but he needs to take my words in a very positive way — he needs a lot of work.
“I don’t want to praise him too much because if so his head [grows big]! His perception will be ‘wow!’ And the reality is he still needs to prove [himself].
“He has the possibility and the potential, of course, but now it is up to him and we go again: mentality. In his mind he is capable to learn about suffering: there never is enough training, always try to be better.
“Football must be his focus, not the business around football. Maybe [if he learns this] he will play at a very good level and be one of the best midfielders in England.
“If he wants to take my advice, take it. If people don’t want to take it, we cannot help. But of course his potential is to be a very, very good player for England and Tottenham. First for Tottenham and then, if England believe that he can help them, for England, too.”
It’s important to note that, while comparing Winks to two of the game’s best ever midfielders, Pochettino is also being cautious.
The 22-year-old still has a long way to go, but he could become one of Spurs’ first choice central midfielders sooner rather than later with Mousa Dembele having entered the final 12 months of his contract.