TOTTENHAM turned down a bold bid by Nice to lure rising star Harry Winks away on loan last season.
The 21-year-old midfielder has emerged as one of the Premier League’s hottest young talents in the past two seasons and was hugely impressive as he won his first England cap on Sunday in the 1-0 win away to Lithuania.
Winks has praised Spurs’ boss Mauricio Pochettino for helping his development, calling him a “top manager and a top man as well”.
But his progress could have been halted if the Argentine, who has helped a host of young English players break through to the senior ranks, had let him go to France last season.
The Daily Mail has revealed that Nice, who finished third in Ligue One last season with the help of Mario Balotelli’s goals, wanted to take him there but had their loan swoop rejected by the North London side.
Winks went on to make 21 Premier League appearances last season but has only got a total of 121 minutes of top-flight action under his belt this term.
And despite his strong start to his Three Lions career, in which he won over fans with his traditional black boots, he knows he must play regularly for his club if he is to be considered for Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad next summer.
The creative midfielder, who is set to be offered a new £40,000 deal at Spurs, said: “Of course it is something I’ve dreamed of, to be able to say I’ve been to the World Cup.
“But it is a long way away and all I can do is focus on Spurs.
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“If you get called up, who knows? I trust my ability and believe I am good enough to play at this level.
“All I can do is keep performing for Tottenham. It’s a long way away and I can’t think about it yet.”
Winks said he was “in shock” when he got the call-up to the full England side.
And in a further sign that the Hertfordshire lad has been helped by staying at Spurs instead of going out on loan to get more game time, he added: “I didn’t believe it. Then the Under-21s manager took me to see Gareth and luckily it all went well.
“The Spurs lads have really helped me settle in. It’s a little bit daunting seeing all these boys but they have all been fantastic. It’s been a great week for me.”
Winks is the latest young star to break into the full England set-up. Find out who could be the next big name on the international stage with our guide to the players to watch at the Under-17 World Cup in India.
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