Antonio Conte claims 23-year-old’s injury was ‘a great opportunity’ for other players

Antonio Conte has expressed his delight at having Cristian Romero back from injury but insisted that the Argentine’s injury lay-off served as an opportunity for other Tottenham defenders to improve.

Romero only played two games at the start of Conte’s reign at Spurs against Everton and Vitesse Arnhem before picking up a hamstring injury while on international duty with Argentina in November.

The injury kept the centre-back out for two and half months before he returned to the starting eleven against Brighton on Saturday, where he looked extremely accomplished.

According to The Athletic, Tottenham’s option to buy Romero for €55m (£46.3m) including add-ons, ‘essentially amounts to an obligation.’

Conte confirmed this by telling Football.London: “I think the club bought him. I think so. He’s on loan but we have an obligation to buy. We bought him!”

Despite defender having played just three matches under him, Conte is convinced that the 23-year-old is a perfect fit for the Premier League.

The Spurs boss added: “He is perfect for this league, but if you can play in this league you can play in all the leagues in the world. The problem is when you stay in another league, you have to ask if you can play in the Premier League.

“When you play here, you can play in any league in the world, because the intensity, the quality, the physicality that you have here is not present in other leagues. For sure Romero is able to play in this league. This league is a perfect suit for him.”

While Romero showed on Saturday why he was a big miss for Tottenham over the past few months, Conte believes that the centre-back’s injury helped the likes of Japhet Tanganga, Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies gain a better understanding of their roles in the side.

The Tottenham head coach said: “Romero is a really good defender and is a good signing for the club and he is very good but don’t forget that his injury was, on one hand, a problem for me, for the team.

“On another hand, it was a great opportunity to improve, to develop players that maybe if Romero was fit couldn’t play or didn’t play. Tanganga … it was the same for Sanchez, for Davies.

“In the difficulty of his injury we have found other players that can be good to give us good performances and defensively to be complete as a player but I’m happy about my defenders. Happy because now the players stay here and I can count on them.”

Spurs Web Opinion

Sanchez has certainly been the biggest beneficiary from Romero’s injury, with the Colombian proving over the last couple of months that he is quite capable of fulfilling the right centre-back role. However, there is no doubt that the Argentine’s return improves us considerably.

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