Spain are considering a shock call-up for Tottenham’s rising star Harry Winks due to Spanish grandparents. The midfielder has represented England at various youth levels but is yet to make an appearance for the senior side. So who is this player that two of the traditional powerhouses of European football are courting?

Winks is Tottenham’s most exciting academy graduate since the emergence of Harry Kane. He has gradually established himself as a reliable member of Pochettino’s squad. The 21-year-old has made a total of 31 appearances this season with 11 of those being starts.

The young midfielder is a tidy technical player who likes to keep the ball and create chances. He likes to take on opponents and is full of energy. This fits in well with Pochettino’s high pressing philosophy and he is now viewed as an able deputy for Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembélé.

Not many players are given three new contracts within the space of a year. This indicates how quickly he is developing along with his rapid rise from academy graduate to first team squad member. For Tottenham he is turning into an important player. The next stage of his career will be the decision of his international future.


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Last season was the seventh time in a row that the champions failed to successfully defend their title and it was 5000/1 shot Leicester City that became the sixth different winner of the premier league. Due to this the 2016/2017 Premier League season is arguably going to be the most exciting and debated about season ever. Here we look at the teams that have started well and their subsequent title chances:

Manchester City:

Maximum points after six games, plus 13 goal difference and off to a flyer in the Champions league. Terrifying statistics for the rest of the league and just what the blue half of Manchester wanted and were expecting after the appointment of Pep Guardiola as manager. His predecessor, Manuel Pellegrini, started in similar fashion and even won the Premier League in his first season in charge and City’s second in three years but two lacklustre attempts since then cost him his job and City needed someone to spark life into their team. Who better to do this than Guardiola and he has done just that, it took barely three minutes for a rejuvenated Raheem Sterling to be felled by Van Aanholt and Aguero to score the subsequent penalty. A nail biting finish in this game eventually saw City come out on top but the fashion in which they despatched Stoke, West Ham, Bournemouth and Swansea was like watching Barcelona do the same thing in La Liga. They never looked like losing the Manchester derby, a game that was widely tipped to be a title decider, and ultimately exposed the weaknesses in their rivals’ squad as much as displaying their own strengths. Guardiola seems to have found the right formula on the training ground and intelligent signings such as Nolito, Gundogan and Stones have added to an already top class squad. Players such as Sterling, Silva and Kolarov appear to be loving life under Pep and have regained their confidence and are almost like new signings in themselves!

Verdict: Strong favourites

Tottenham Hotspur:

The manner in which Spurs faded away from the title race and ultimately let bitter rivals Arsenal take second place last season was quite worrying and cast doubts over Pochettino’s ability to take Spurs to the top. Sir Alex Ferguson’s endorsement of Pochettino was glowing and he rated him as one of the best managers in Europe and a future title winner and their start to the current season suggests that this might be accurate. Unbeaten after six games and only three goals conceded points to Tottenham being strong contenders. Vincent Janssen has been brought in to provide much needed cover for Harry Kane and the squad as a whole seems settled and is full of young, fresh, hungry players learning their roles together. Their style of play has become synonymous with attacking full backs providing a threat from the wide areas and Kyle Walker is fast becoming one of the best attacking full backs in Europe. If Spurs and Pochettino can work out how to juggle Champions league football and the busy domestic season they look like one of the teams that can challenge City and if it doesn’t happen this year they are only going to get stronger.

Verdict: Perhaps too soon but strong contenders


No title since the ‘Invincibles’ of 2003/04 and a missed opportunity last season in coming second place are two major factors in the fans becoming restless with their team’s fortunes. The pressure is always on Arsene Wenger to succeed and has undoubtedly done so at Arsenal despite having to seemingly rebuild the team every three or four years. This club philosophy at Arsenal has seen them move to a new stadium and become one of the top teams in Europe but the fans demand titles and this season might be the time for Wenger and Arsenal. Contrary to previous seasons Arsenal have kept their key players and look like building up some real momentum with a team full of international talent. There was no shame in the defeat to Liverpool and the draw with champions Leicester seemed to be the final wakeup call that allowed Arsenal to find top gear this season. The fitness of key players such as Sanchez, Ozil and Cazorla is going to be important for their title chances but in Arsene Wenger they have the most experienced manager in this league and could that prove crucial?

Verdict: Always the bridesmaids but will inevitably be contenders


Jurgen Klopp was the perfect fit for Liverpool and has improved everything about them in the 12 months he’s had in charge. Impressive cup runs in the EFL cup and Europa league, resulting in two finals, ultimately provided quite the distraction from league performances last season and an eighth place finish has seen previous managers lose their jobs but the obvious positive reaction from the Anfield faithful and rejuvenated performances on the pitch were enough for Klopp to earn a full season in charge. He and Liverpool have faith and confidence to once again bring success to the red half of Merseyside and their opening performances have proved that this may be tenable. The pressing approach, of which Klopp is a huge advocate, is proving very successful for Liverpool. The flowing interplay and team defense mentality of Mane, Firmino, Coutinho and Lallana is a wonder to behold and with Henderson anchoring everything from deep it seems Liverpool have got the wind in their sails and if they cut out results such as the one against Burnley they could quite conceivably mount a serious title challenge this season.

Verdict: They continue to go from strength to strength, don’t count them out.

Manchester United:

A world record signing, one of the world’s greatest managers at the helm and the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic are just three of the reasons why United fans are more hopeful of their chances this season than the previous three since the retirement of club legend Sir Alex Ferguson after winning his thirteenth title in 2013. Jose Mourinho’s almost untouchable ‘aura of invincibility’ took a bit of a beating last season and he as well as some United players have got a point to prove. Mourinho has got a tough job finding the right players to work in the right systems for United this season after inheriting a somewhat disjointed team and this has been apparent already in the Manchester derby and defeat to Watford however an instant impact from Zlatan and glimpses of world class football in their other games leads us to believe it will not be long before we see United back near the top of the table. The manner in which they despatched champions Leicester was particularly impressive and this was with club captain Wayne Rooney watching from the bench, a typically headstrong decision from Mourinho but if it ultimately proves to be the right one he will once more be heralded a genius.

Verdict: Might just fall short of the ‘noisy neighbours’ again but will do everything to push them to the wire.


Last season was the worst defence of a premier league title ever and the reasons for this could be debated for weeks and still not be fully understood. The manager lost his professionalism, the star players never turned up and ultimately it will be a season that Chelsea want to forget. Antonio Conte is the latest high profile name in the hotseat of the Abramovich project, and nobody could deny that he has the credentials to be a success. A mixed start to the season began with fine victories against West Ham, Watford and Burnley, Hazard and Costa were back to their best and Chelsea were purring but subsequent losses to title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal might arguably have cost them the title already. It is still early in the season however and the quality in the Chelsea squad is abundant, they will not have European football to distract them and once they fully adapt to the new system Conte has installed they are more than capable of going on a title winning run of form.

Verdict: Might just be a season to return to normal after last term’s debacle but must be dark horses.

About the author – Liam Bailes

Liam has been a football fanatic since the early 1990s and continues to be delighted by the sport today. He follows the 5 big European leagues as well as the npower championship and major cup competitions both domestically and internationally. He is an FA level 2 coach and loves to be involved with football at every opportunity.


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Dele Alli signed with Tottenham Hotspur from MK Dons in January of this year, before going back on-loan to finish the season with the Milton Keynes club in an attempt to achieve promotion to the Championship – which, with the help of Alli, they did so.

Alli’s meteoric rise to top-flight football has been nothing short of mesmerising. A 19-year-old that has played majority of his professional career with League One side, MK Dons, to fitting in superbly well with a top Premier League side in this day and age, is unheard of.

In recent years, with Mousa Dembélé’s lack of form and Paulinho’s shoddy performances, Tottenham have been longing for a midfield presence that glides the surface from box-to-box. A powerful dominator that wins a challenge more often than not but can also add to the goal tally and help out his forwards. Dele Alli has risen to that challenge and is now being commended for doing so.

It is rare to see such a young player take the Premier League by storm, and with what Alli is already achieving, it’s not hard to see that his potential is sky high.

When compared with Steven Gerrard at the same age, the stats were compelling and in Alli’s favour. At the age of 19, 7 months and 15 days old, the youngster had played 17 times for Spurs, netting twice, two times for England U-21’s and four times for the England team, scoring an absolute wonder goal on his first International start. Comparing that with Gerrard, England’s former captain, the current LA Galaxy star played 33 times for Liverpool – scoring once – and three times for the England U-21’s at the same age. This suggests that Ali is on the right course for stardom if he can just follow in the same footsteps as Gerrard. Shouldn’t be too difficult, then.

Gary Neville, currently acting as assistant manager for England, is seemingly very impressed with the youngsters attitude and ability, especially in his starting debut against France, “There was a tackle in the lead-up to Dele Alli’s goal for England against France that ranks as one of my favourite moments as an England coach,”

‘There was a sense of pride watching someone perform like that, in his first game, against the likes of Matuidi, Schneiderlin and Pogba. You are thinking – what a performance that was by a young player.”

Not only was it an impressive goal by Alli, it was in the manner that it was taken – with complete control and vigour that you wouldn’t normally associate with a player that’s not only making his debut for England, but also just 19-years-old.

Neville was so impressed with Alli’s performance, he goes on to say that it’s been one of his highlights while with England as a coach, “This lad was playing League One football recently. Now he can handle himself against one of the best midfields in Europe. He can run, pass, tackle, head. And he’s tough. That performance against France was a highlight of my time with England.”

Tottenham have only lost one game from 14 in the Premier League this season and conceded 11 – the League’s second fewest – and with Ali’s presence sitting in that midfield – while also posing a threat going forward – you can see why. He presents himself in a manner that oozes confidence from within and will back himself no matter the opponent.

Alli cleverly sits just in-front of his back four and provides them with that all important cover, but when the opportunity arises itself, the England international will go on a surging run whistling past defenders trying to create something.

If you’d have said at the start of the season that Dele Alli could be in the England squad for the European Championships in France next year, you’d have been laughed at. However, with his consistent authoritative performances – none better to highlight this with his Man of the Match award against Arsenal in the North London Derby – you would think, if he can keep this level of performance, he has a prominent claim in being there. Alli may be the future of England, but why not incorporate him in a manner that also gets the best out of his youthfulness?

About the author – Liam Canning

Liam is a free-lance journalist who has featured on The Mirror, Telegraph, London Evening Standard, Independent, Squawka and FoutFourTwo.

twitter: @OffsideLiam


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