Opinion: Why Lo Celso’s return from injury should not worry Dele Alli

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Giovani Lo Celso
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Dele Alli has found himself returning to favour under Jose Mourinho in recent weeks. He has suffered a difficult spell under the Portuguese manager this season but, nonetheless, the 24-year-old has impressed in his cameos over the last few weeks.

Back in January, speculation surrounded the England international about a potential move across the channel to France. Mourinho was reportedly open to allowing Dele to leave, even if it was only a 6-month loan.

However, Daniel Levy reportedly refused to sanction the move, believing that Dele could still be of use to the Spurs squad.

Since then, the attacking midfielder has seemingly put his head down and grafted his way back into contention. Spurs captain Hugo Lloris stated in a recent interview that Dele “switched on” following the closure of the January window (football.london).

Subsequently, Dele started just his second Premier League game of the season against Fulham this week and had a helping hand in the goal as Spurs triumphed 1-0 at Craven Cottage.

As well as this, Dele has provided a new incentive into Tottenham’s attacking play. He contributed two assists and that spectacular overhead kick in the second leg against Wolfsberger in the first knockout stage of the Europa League (TransferMrkt).

Dele was left out for most of the first half of the season. One reason for this was the fact that Mourinho preferred to utilise the skillset of Giovanni Lo Celso.

Having made his loan move permanent in January 2020, the Argentine has impressed in an advanced midfield role. Seemingly, Lo Celso has occupied the role often fulfilled by Dele, which may have contributed to the young Englishman’s lack of game time.

Interestingly, the former Real Betis star has been absent from the Spurs squad recently due to a hamstring injury.

It could be speculated that Dele is only playing due to Lo Celso’s absence. Spurs will be hoping to finish this bizarre season with a flourish. In order to do this, they are going to need to utilise both players. Only then can they aspire to clinch a top four finish and end a 13-year trophy drought.

The argument that only one can play must not be one at the forefront of fans’ minds. It must be considered how each can be used to improve results.

The North-London outfit have already played 44 games this season, more than anyone else in the Premier League (TransferMrkt). This is largely due to the Europa League qualifiers we had to play before the commencement of the 20/21 season.

As this is the case, rotation is going to be vital towards the business end of the year. It was evident against Fulham that our players were struggling to maintain a high press. Energy levels were extremely low in the second half, and tiredness was showing.

Therefore, rotation of key positions is imperative. This will help avoid injuries and maintain fitness levels.

This would likely see Dele/Lo Celso rotate as it is difficult to see a scenario in which they play together. This may be due to the fact that Kane, Son, Hojbjerg, and Ndombele provide the backbone and spine to our current squad.

Spurs are still in the Europa League. Also, we have around a quarter of our games in the league left to play. Clearly, we will need both players fit and raring to go.

Alternatively, Mourinho could experiment with a variety of formations, one that could accommodate both playmakers in the same line-up. It is not impossible that Lo Celso could rotate with Ndombele in midfield, with Dele playing ahead of him.

Lo Celso’s broad range of passing and creative ability could facilitate the perfect link-up play between the two. Dele has become renowned for his late runs in behind and Lo Celso could be a provider in that area.

Mourinho certainly has a difficult task on his hands, as Lo Celso nears full fitness again. You could argue that Spurs only need one of Dele or Lo Celso. However, most Spurs fans would prefer to integrate both into matchdays.

One thing is for certain, a fully fit Dele and Lo Celso can only be a positive. Hopefully, Mourinho utilises them in a positive way, rather than through isolation and cryptic media comments.

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