Mauricio Pochettino is planning to make Harry Winks one of the central pillars of his next Tottenham team.
Winks was handed a new five-year deal on Monday which has lifted him closer to the club’s top earners in Pochettino’s latest show of faith in the talented midfielder.
The new contract is the fourth time since 2015 that Winks, 23, has signed an extended deal and he is now tied down until 2024.
And while it looks set to be all change in Spurs’s engine room this summer Winks is one member of last season’s squad earmarked for an even bigger role.
Spurs have shattered their transfer record to sign Tanguy Ndombele in a deal worth up to £63m from Lyon and also have fellow midfielders, Real Betis’s Giovani Lo Celso, Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos and Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo, in their sights.
Meanwhile, Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama are potentially vulnerable in the overhaul, Christian Eriksen’s future remains uncertain with just one year left on his deal and Mousa Dembele departed for China in January.
But Winks’ position is assured as Pochettino evolves his squad after five years in charge and aims to build on Spurs’s Champions League final appearance.
And he is part of the core group of players Pochettino intends to build his squad around which also includes his England team-mates Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
Pochettino has always been a big fan of boyhood Spurs fan and academy product Winks, the admiration between the pair obvious especially since their emotional celebrations following Winks’s first Spurs goal against West Ham in 2016.
He values highly Winks’s composure on the ball, ability to retain and recycle possession and conduct his Spurs team from a deep lying midfield role, earning the youngster comparisons with Barcelona legends Xavi and Iniesta from Pochettino.
Just important as his talent, especially for a manager like Pochettino who wants his stars to be good people as well as players, is Winks’s selflessness, humility, dedication and instinct to put his team and others first.
Even during an injury-disrupted season when Winks was limited to just 17 starts – and Spurs missed him when he was out – he managed to go up in Pochettino’s estimations by putting his shattered body on the line to play through the pain of a groin problem to feature in their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester City.
He then bust a gut after groin surgery to be back fit for the final against Liverpool in Madrid and shine for Spurs, even in defeat.
His place in Pochettino’s starting XI for one of the biggest games in Spurs’s history after almost two months out further underlined exactly how crucial Winks is to his manager.
His focus on what reaching the Champions League final meant to the club, fans and his family and not just himself also went down well with Pochettino and his coaching staff.
Now, a big season awaits for Winks not just for club but also country.
England boss Gareth Southgate chose to leave Winks out of his squad for June’s Nations League finals as, at the point he finalised his squad, the Spurs star had not played for seven weeks.
But Winks’s absence from the semi-final against Holland seemed to have the effect of only highlighting even more how important he is to England’s future.
The Three Lions’ lack of a player of his ilk, a midfielder capable of controlling a game, was exposed as the Dutch ground England down inspired by their own midfield pass master Frenkie De Jong.
The clamour after the Nations League was clear – Harry Winks, your country needs you.
With another new contract in his back pocket and Pochettino’s big plans for him Spurs do too, no matter who else arrives this summer.