Opinion: A message to the Lo Celso doubters and how his return could be vital for Spurs

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Image: SpursWeb

Tottenham signed Giovanni Lo Celso on loan from Real Betis on deadline day in 2019 and later made the deal permanent in the January of 2020. 

His Spurs career started pretty poorly in the first few months of the 19/20 season due to an injury sustained during international duty.

However, right towards the end of the Mauricio Pochettino era, he started to improve with a very impressive performance against Red Star Belgrade in a 4-0 victory. When Mauricio was sacked, it took Jose a month or two to see Lo Celso’s potential. 

He was in and out of the team towards the end of December and early January with some decent performances but a game in the Premier League against Norwich cemented his place in the team.

A 2-1 victory for Spurs saw Lo Celso complete four key passes, have five out of six successful dribbles and win 11 personal duels (SofaScore). This showed his all-round ability and caught the eye of every Spurs fan watching.

From then, things were going great, with very good performances across all competitions for the Argentine, prompting Mourinho to say in an interview with Sky Sports that he “wouldn’t change Lo Celso for anyone.”

So what went wrong and why are some now turning against him?

One argument against Lo Celso’s ability is his lack of goal contributions. He has only registered one goal and one assist in the Premier League this season, following the zero goals and two assists he managed last time out (TransferMarkt).

However, maybe these stats don’t provide an accurate picture. This is because in the 19/20 season, he only made 15 starts and these were mainly in a period where Son and Kane were out injured.

As soon as Kane and Son came back to fitness after the restart, Lo Celso finally got his first two goal contributions in the Premier League, and who did he assist? You guessed it, Son and Kane.

In a 3-1 victory against Newcastle, he assisted Son to put us 1-0 up and in a 1-1 draw versus Crystal Palace, he slotted in a clinical Kane who beat Guaita (TransferMarkt).

Lo Celso also offers good defensive output as well, last season he averaged 1.8 tackles per game. In comparison to our other midfielders, Winks only put up 1.0 per game and Sissoko 1.3 (SofaScore).

It is difficult to explain his best attributes because he is one of those players who can do it all – thinking back to his incredible run against Southampton in the FA Cup to set up Son’s goal, where he ran the length of the pitch, beating at least four opponents.

One of his best things about Lo Celso is his hunger to get the ball and his eagerness to drive us forward and create. This can set the tempo for our whole rhythm of play and get the team going, a quality that Winks and Sissoko lack.

While he was at Real Betis, when Lo Celso was playing in a more advanced role, he scored 16 goals and registered 6 assists (TransferMarkt).

So, at Betis, we have already seen what he can offer in a more advanced role and last season we saw what he can offer deep, so how does he fit in? 

Well, with Ndombele hitting peak fitness and when Gio comes back from his injury, I think a midfield three consisting of Hojbjerg, Ndombele and Lo Celso could work perfectly.

Both Gio and Tanguy have the capability to play in deeper and also advanced roles. So, with both of them in there, they can complement each other perfectly by interchanging.

With this, we would have a very dynamic midfield with fast, forward-thinking creative midfielders, which is something we haven’t had for a very long time.  

Lo Celso is a multi-talented player who can play numerous positions but has endured a season struck with unfortunate injuries.

With season-defining matches coming up in all competitions, his return from injury could prove to be the missing ingredient to our midfield.

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